Woman Banned From Uber Over 'Offensive' First Name

By Dave Basner

April 23, 2024

Photo: Getty Images

One of the most important decisions a parent can make is what to name their child. Not only is that name used every day, but people often judge others by their name alone. In fact, companies might judge them too, like Uber, who banned a woman from using the ride-share and food deliver services because they deemed her name offensive.

That woman, Swastika Chandra, grew up in Fiji, where her name was common and no big deal. She told Australia's Nine, "I personally know four or five other girls with the same name... It means good luck. It means good things for me." She added that her name is on her birth certificate, her driver's license, her Australian citizenship certificate and her health care card and no one has had any issue with it. That is, until she attempted to order food through Uber and when she tried to pay, she got a message that said, "Your first name is in violation and you need to change your name on the app."

While many might associate a swastika with the Nazi symbol, the name means prosperity and good luck in ancient Sanskrit. Chandra is frustrated that her name had been used by Hindus for "thousands of years before Hitler," who used it in the "wrong way." She stated, "A bit of education, I think, is needed. I'm very proud of my name. I believe in the good that comes with it and I'm not changing it for anyone."

It took five months, as well as the help of Australia's Hindu Council and support from the Jewish community, to get Uber to back down, apologize, and allow Chandra to use the platform. The company cited the problem on new guidelines on words that could be considered offensive. They said in a statement, "Uber is committed to facilitating a safe and welcoming environment for all users. For that reason, Uber has a global policy of restricting access to users whose names entered into the Uber app contain potentially offensive words. We understand that there are different cultural nuances to names, and therefore our teams address incidents like this on a case-by-case basis to ensure we evaluate each account fairly. In this case, after reviewing Ms Chandra's request, we reinstated her access to the app. We have apologized to Ms Chandra for the inconvenience this caused her, and we appreciate her patience as we reviewed the matter, which took longer than we hoped it would."

Swastika has since been honored by the Hindu community for standing up to Uber. She's using the opportunity to urge other young girls to be proud of their names stating, "It's who you are."

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