A lawsuit filed by a former Uber driver from San Diego claims the ride-sharing company’s system to rate its drivers is racially biased.

Thomas Liu was fired in October 2015 when his star rating fell below 4.6. In its app, Uber asks passengers to rate drivers on a scale of one to five.

Lawsuit claims race plays a role in star ratings

Liu is from Hawaii, and the lawsuit describes him as an Asian man who speaks with a slight accent. He says he was given low ratings because of his race, noting that several people canceled after seeing his picture. He says he also noticed riders asking where he was from “in an unfriendly way.”

The lawsuit claims Uber relies on the star rating system and that non-white drivers or those who speak with accents are fired more often than white drivers. The suit was filed in San Francisco and seeks class-action status for minority drivers who were kicked off the app due to low star ratings.

EEOC dismissed complaint

Liu filed a discrimination complaint against Uber with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which did not make a determination and dismissed it in August. That allowed him to pursue the lawsuit in federal court.

In addition to damages for Liu and other fired drivers, the suit asks the court to prohibit Uber from using rider evaluations to determine whether to keep drivers from using its app, effectively terminating them. Uber disputes the claims but would not disclose how the company factors star ratings into driver evaluations and firings.