Rideshare drivers don’t have it easy, but few have had to put up with the nightmare scenario Eduardo Madiedo experienced recently in Queens, New York.
Like many others in this line of work, Madiedo uses a dashboard camera, which can be useful for challenging inaccurate driver testimony or just keeping drivers safe. Unfortunately, being caught on film did not stop a distressed rider on Thursday from repeatedly punching Madiedo in the back of the head while he was still driving.
The unnamed passenger, who police are currently searching for, according to NBC News, enters the vehicle along with an older female co-rider, with the intention of going to Mount Sinai Hospital. It’s unclear if the passengers were enrolled in Lyft Healthcare—which arranges rides for patients to and from appointments—or if this was a standard trip. Regardless, the passenger seems to be in some form of pain, moaning and laying across the back seat.
The passenger eventually demands Madiedo drive faster, although there seems to be no way to do so, cursing after being told his request is impossible. “Excuse me, man, if you’re gonna be disrespectful I’ll just pull over right now,” Madiedo replies. Seconds later, the passenger, now shirtless, is punching him in the back of the head while the car is still in motion. Madiedo appears to pull over as the passenger climbs into the front seat briefly, then exits the vehicle and attempts to throw one more punch through the open driver’s side window.
Because Lyft’s business model depends on drivers being considered contractors and not employees, drivers like Eduardo are stuck paying for things like gas, vehicle maintenance, and as may be the case, healthcare. Across the country, rideshare drivers have increasingly engaged in mass protests to push back against falling wages and poor working conditions while the two largest players in this market—Lyft and Uber—made stock market debuts at outrageous valuations.
In a statement emailed to Gizmodo, a Lyft spokesperson said the company considers safety “fundamental” and described the incident Madiedo endured “unacceptable.” Lyft has banned passengers for life for verbally abusing drivers in the past, and the company says it is taking similar action in this case.
“There is no place for violence of any kind in our community,” the company spokesperson said. “We have permanently banned the passenger and have reached out to the driver to offer our support. We stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation.”
Madiedo luckily did not sustain any serious injuries but is, understandably, seeking other forms of employment.