DOJ sues Uber for allegedly discriminating against people with disabilities

Written by By Kade Crockford, CNN The U.S. government has sued Uber, alleging the ride-hailing giant discriminates against people with disabilities, by denying trips to individuals with disabilities. The Department of Justice filed the…

DOJ sues Uber for allegedly discriminating against people with disabilities

Written by By Kade Crockford, CNN

The U.S. government has sued Uber, alleging the ride-hailing giant discriminates against people with disabilities, by denying trips to individuals with disabilities.

The Department of Justice filed the lawsuit in a federal court in California on Tuesday, following a yearlong investigation into Uber’s practices.

According to the DOJ, the complaint accuses Uber of discriminating against people with disabilities in the Chicago, Arizona and Washington, DC, areas.

Specifically, the suit alleges that Uber discriminates against riders with spinal cord injuries and their families by operating only one wheelchair accessible vehicle in Chicago.

No right to choose an Uber wheelchair-accessible vehicle

The service is provided in only three of Uber’s more than 13,000 cities, although last month the company announced it would begin offering an alternative alternative for users of a wheelchair-accessible van in Los Angeles.

“Our mission at Uber is to provide a means of transportation to everyone, and that includes supporting individuals with disabilities,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. “Until we can provide a complete set of wheelchair accessible options in all of our markets, we are piloting wheelchair accessible vans in Los Angeles. We are committed to improving accessibility for all riders and drivers.”

But DOJ, in its complaint, states: “Uber’s actions present a clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Uber’s policies require and encourage persons with disabilities to purchase a private ride-hailing service for themselves and their family and friends, but Uber will not allow them to also select a wheelchair accessible vehicle as part of that purchase, because Uber fails to comply with the ADA.”

The government is seeking reimbursement and other relief.

Among other measures, the DOJ is requesting that Uber provide wheelchair-accessible vehicles in all its markets by July 2019. The agency is also demanding Uber provide lists of all of its services for people with disabilities.

In previous press releases about its wheelchair accessibility offerings, Uber has described the disabled services it offers as a way to assist users.

“We want Uber to be a platform that makes it easy for our customers to easily and reliably book rides in their own cars,” said Alex Parrow, regional vice president of Uber for Access in an April news release.

Previous legal issues

Though Uber has offered service to people with disabilities in the U.S. for five years, it only began to fully comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2016.

During that time, Uber reportedly received an upgrade from a “substandard rating” to a “strong rating” based on the achievements it had made in the past three years.

“If we’re going to guarantee all Uber riders get treated equally by us as people, we need to give our customers the same reliable choice,” a company spokesperson said in that news release.

The company’s move to improve its disabled service comes on the heels of the Democratic Party’s plan to ban discrimination on its platform in the 2018 US midterm elections.

The move followed the endorsement of new party rules that required all candidates in the primary race to make an affirmative commitment to rules that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities.

Congressman Joe Kennedy III called the rule a “rights action” after it was passed in October.

“Inclusion of disability rights is a rights and justice issue that transcends party lines, this rule is a rights and justice issue,” Kennedy said in a statement.

The move was widely seen as a response to a 2016 ACLU lawsuit against the Republican National Committee.

Leave a Comment