The federal government is suing Uber saying it discriminates against disabled people by charging fees when drivers have to wait for passengers to board their vehicles.
Uber says it has already made changes and denies that it's discriminating.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Uber began adding the wait time fees in April 2016. The fees kick in two minutes after an Uber driver arrives and are charged until the car begins its trip.
The DOJ says Uber is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for failing to modify its fees for those who may need extra time to get into an Uber car.
The department’s lawsuit alleges that, even when Uber is aware that a passenger’s need for additional time is clearly disability-based, Uber starts charging a wait time fee at the two-minute mark.
The lawsuit seeks relief from the court, including ordering Uber to stop discriminating against individuals with disabilities, according to the DOJ.
Additionally, the DOJ is asking the court to order Uber to modify its wait time fee policy to comply with the ADA, to train its staff and drivers on the ADA, to pay monetary damages to people subjected to the wait time fees, and to pay a civil penalty to vindicate the public’s interest in eliminating disability discrimination.
“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.”
In a statement obtained by The New York Times, an Uber spokesman said the lawsuit was “surprising and disappointing,” adding that the company fundamentally disagrees that its policies violate the ADA.
If you believe you have been a victim of disability discrimination by Uber because you, or someone you were traveling with, were charged wait time fees, the DOJ says to contact 833-591-0425 (toll-free), 202-305-6786, or send an email to Uber.Fee@usdoj.gov.