Oops! It happened again.
Uber, a ride-hailing company, is again in hot water for discrimination. This time, the government has taken out the big guns.
The Biden administration filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice alleging that Uber violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by charging disabled riders a wait-time fee if they take more than two minutes for them to get in the car that will pick them up.
Wait-time fees work in this way: Riders are allowed to enter the vehicle within two minutes of their driver arriving. If they take longer, an additional fee will be charged.
Although this policy might be sensible for those who do not have mobility issues, it is being accused by the government that Uber penalizes disabled riders who require extra time to get in a car. The DOJ's lawsuit cited as an example rideshare users who use wheelchairs. These can be a bit more difficult to load into the car.
The lawsuit centers on two cases involving disabled Uber riders who were subject to wait-time fees. They were not reimbursed when they appealed the fees. The suit claims that one plaintiff, a Kentucky woman who is quadriplegic was forced to use an Uber to travel to a nearby hospital. She was told she would not receive a refund after she was charged the wait time fee.
A spokesperson for Uber stated that the wait-time fee policy was meant to compensate drivers for waiting two minutes. However, it is not intended to be used by riders who arrive at their pick-up location and need to wait longer to get in the car.
Invariably, there will be people who point out that Uber’s wait-time charge of $0.55 per hour is not high enough to justify a federal lawsuit. This story and the government's rare pursuit of justice for these disabled plaintiffs are not about the money. It's also about the wider context of Uber charging extra for additional accommodation. That's a violation of the ADA.
Let's face it, Uber doesn't have a stellar track record in discrimination.
Continue reading: Uber sued by the U.S. over a wait-time fee for disabled passengers [Bloomberg News]
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