DOJ Sues Uber For Discriminating Against Passengers With Disabilities

Disability advocates in New York City filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in 2017. At the time, the organization claimed that Uber was inaccessible to 99.9% of people with mobility disabilities.

DOJ Sues Uber For Discriminating Against Passengers With Disabilities - SurgeZirc US
DOJ Sues Uber For Discriminating Against Passengers With Disabilities

The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Uber for allegedly discriminating against disabled passengers. In a complaint filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of California, the agency claims Uber violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

They did so by implementing a policy that has seen the company charge “wait time” fees to passengers who require more time to enter a car due to their disabilities. Private companies are not allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities under the law.

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The policy, according to the Justice Department, has been in place since 2016, when Uber implemented it in a number of US cities before expanding its use nationwide. When a passenger takes more than two minutes to enter an UberX vehicle or more than five minutes to enter an Uber Black or SUV vehicle, the company charges a wait time fee.

When this is the case, Uber claims that most users pay less than $0.60 on average. However, passengers with disabilities, such as those using wheelchairs or walkers, frequently require more time to enter a vehicle than those who do not.

“People with disabilities deserve equal access to all areas of community life, including the private transportation services provided by companies like Uber,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

A spokesperson for Uber called the lawsuit “surprising” and “disappointing.” The full statement reads:

“Wait time fees are charged to all riders to compensate drivers after two minutes of waiting but were never intended for riders who are ready at their designated pickup location but need more time to get into the car.

“We recognize that many riders with disabilities depend on Uber for their transportation needs, which is why we had been in active discussions with the DOJ about how to address any concerns or confusion before this surprising and disappointing lawsuit.

“It has been our policy to refund wait time fees for disabled riders whenever they alerted us that they were charged. After a recent change last week, now any rider who certifies they are disabled will have fees automatically waived.

“We fundamentally disagree that our policies violate the ADA and will keep improving our products to support everyone’s ability to easily move around their communities.”

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The company also stated that it does not charge a wait time fee by default when someone requests a wheelchair-accessible or Uber Assist ride. This isn’t the first time Uber has been sued for allegedly violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Disability advocates in New York City filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in 2017. At the time, the organization claimed that Uber was inaccessible to 99.9% of people with mobility disabilities.

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