Hertz tells agents Puerto Rican licenses are valid in U.S. after man refused car : NPR

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Hertz apologized and rewrote company policy after a man from Puerto Rico was denied a rental car despite showing a valid US driver’s license.

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Hertz apologized and rewrote company policy after a man from Puerto Rico was denied a rental car despite showing a valid US driver’s license.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Hertz has clarified to its employees that Puerto Rican driver’s licenses are valid forms of identification for customers, following an incident in which rental car company agents called the police on a Puerto Rican man after who asked him to show his passport in order to collect a car.

Both Hertz and a local Louisiana police department apologized to the man, Puerto Rico resident Humberto Marchand. The incident was earlier reported on CBS News.

Afterwards, the representative of Puerto Rico in Congress, Jenniffer González-Colón, wrote a letter to the CEO of the company and encouraged Hertz to implement an “educational campaign” throughout the company for its employees.

“It is unacceptable that, more than 100 years after obtaining American citizenship, Puerto Ricans are still being discriminated against and treated like second-class American citizens,” González-Colón wrote.

In a reply dated TuesdayHertz CEO Stephen Scherr wrote that he was “disappointed” to learn about the incident, which he called “unacceptable.”

The company’s policy already allowed customers with Puerto Rico driver’s licenses to rent cars without showing a passport, Scherr said, but it has since been rewritten to “be even clearer” about the status of ‘Puerto Rico and other territories of the United States.

The company will emphasize the policy in communications with employees at its hiring locations and call centers and add the topic to in-person training sessions, he added. “We will strive to ensure that Mr. Marchand’s experience is not repeated,” Scherr wrote.

On May 10, at the Hertz rental counter at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Marchand presented his valid Puerto Rican driver’s license to pick up a prepaid reservation. According to Marchand, Hertz employees did not accept his license as a valid form of identification and asked to see a passport. He was not carrying his own with him, he said, and in the end the agents denied him the car.

Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, and Puerto Ricans are citizens of the United States.

In a video recorded by Marchand, he can be heard asking an employee “Did you know that my Puerto Rico driver’s license is just as valid as my Louisiana driver’s license?” The employee tells him that he is behaving illegally and calls the police.

Hertz later apologized for the incident. “We sincerely regret that our policy was not followed and have apologized to Mr. Marchand and refunded his rent,” the company said in a statement earlier this month. “We are reinforcing our policies with employees to ensure they are understood and followed consistently across our locations.”

A police officer from Kenner, La., responded to the incident. In footage recorded by the officer’s body-worn camera, the officer can be heard asking Marchand to leave.

“Perhaps you can understand the words that are coming out of my mouth a little more clearly the third time,” says the officer. “If they say you need a passport and you don’t, and they say you need a passport to rent a car, what’s your problem?”

The Kenner Police Department also later apologized. “I don’t think that’s the way we want to be portrayed, and it shouldn’t have been talked about that way,” Police Chief Keith Conley told local TV station WVUE.

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