US Government Suing Uber For Discriminating Against The Disabled

Government / Comments

Uber's wait time policy is unfair to disabled people.

The United States of America is suing Uber Technologies in the United States District Court Northern District of California.

Why? As the plaintiff, the US claims that Uber violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating against passengers with disabilities and potential passengers with disabilities through its policies and practices of imposing "wait time" fees. It also states that Uber has failed to ensure adequate vehicle boarding time, equitable fares for passengers with disabilities, and to make reasonable modifications to its policies.

The Attorney General regards this as a case of discrimination and is, therefore, an issue of general public importance. The United States seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, compensatory and emotional distress damages, and a civil penalty against Uber.

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In plain, non-lawyer English, the US Justice Department is accusing Uber of violating the disabilities act by charging waiting fees to disable people who need more time to get to and into a car.

"Uber's wait time fees take a significant toll on people with disabilities," said acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds for the Northern District of California. "Passengers with disabilities who need additional boarding time are entitled to access ridesharing services without discrimination. This lawsuit seeks to assist people with disabilities to live their lives with independence and dignity, as the ADA guarantees."

Uber currently charges an additional wait time fee for passengers who take extra time to get into a car. The standard waiting time is two minutes for UberX and five minutes for Uber Black and SUV options. Riders also have the option of choosing an Uber Assist, which doesn't come with waiting times because of the reasons above. This option is not available everywhere, however.

This is not the first time Uber has been on the wrong side of the law. Self-driving Ubers had 37 accidents, including one fatal crash involving a self-driving Volvo XC90. The safety driver was eventually charged with negligent homicide.

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"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 Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "This lawsuit seeks to bring Uber into compliance with the mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act while sending a powerful message that Uber cannot penalize passengers with disabilities simply because they need more time to get into a car. Uber and other companies that provide transportation services must ensure equal access for all people, including those with disabilities."

Uber has since responded by waiving the waiting fee for any rider if they certify that they're disabled. Earlier this year, Uber also announced that it would offer free rides to anyone on their way to get a vaccination. This is also something it might want to keep in mind before it takes to the skies with Hyundai.

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