Uber discriminates against people with disabilities, new DOJ lawsuit alleges

Uber charges people with disabilities a fee to enter the vehicle. This is according to a lawsuit brought by the US Justice Department against Uber.
The department stated that these extra fees "have harmed many passengers, potential passengers with disabilities across the country," and some may be eligible for monetary damages. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for Northern California. It alleges that Uber violated Title III of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibiting discrimination by private transport companies.

The fee would be charged to the Uber driver two minutes after arriving at their pick-up location.

Uber implemented a wait-time fee in several cities beginning in April 2016. The policy was eventually expanded nationwide, according to the Justice Department. The fee would be charged to passengers two minutes after the Uber car arrived at their pick-up location. People with disabilities such as those who use a wheelchair, walker or other mobility aids often require more time to get in the Uber car than people without disabilities.

In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division stated that "people with disabilities deserve equal access in all areas of society, including private transportation services like Uber." Clarke stated that the lawsuit's goal is to send a powerful message to Uber that passengers with disabilities cannot be penalized simply for taking longer to get in a car.

Uber spokesperson did not immediately respond when we asked for comment.

Uber's record in serving passengers with disabilities is quite poor. In 2017, disability advocates sued Uber, accusing it of denying people with disabilities equal access and violating the ADA. A report detailed excessively long wait times for wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAV) in New York City. And Uber sued New York City to block the implementation of a new rule requiring ride-hailing companies to make wheelchair-accessible service a part of their operations. (Uber and Lyft were exempted from the WAV requirements by the settlement reached between the company and the city.

Uber's record in serving passengers with disabilities is quite dismal

Uber was also sued for its poor service to customers with disabilities. In 2019, a lawsuit was filed in Pennsylvania against Uber for failing to provide equal service to people with disabilities.

Uber is now facing a federal lawsuit. Uber is being sued by the Justice Department for monetary damages. They also want a court order requiring the company to adhere to the ADA.

The lawsuit is about a 52-year old woman with a spinal injury from Miami who uses a motorized chair. It details how she would need to wait five minutes on average to board an Uber car. Uber refused to refund the woman after she noticed she was paying additional fees.

According to the lawsuit, Passenger A was angry that Uber charged her wait-time fees for daily Uber rides to and from her rehab appointments. "Passenger A feels second-class because Uber refused to refund her money nor change its wait fee policy," the lawsuit states.