The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) is suing the Uber app on allegations that it overcharged people with disabilities.
The DoJ says Uber’s “wait time” fares discriminate against disabled passengers who need more than two minutes to get in the car.
He says Uber must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
But Uber said the waiting time fees were not intended to be applied to disabled cyclists and had been refunded.
Kristen Clarke, attorney general of assistance for the civil rights division of the DoJ, said the lawsuit aimed to send a “powerful message that Uber cannot penalize passengers with disabilities simply because they need more time to get in the car. “.
Uber and other transport companies “must ensure equal access for all people, including those with disabilities,” he added.
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However, Uber said it disagreed that its policies violated the ADA.
A spokesperson said the company was in talks with the DoJ prior to the “surprising and disappointing” lawsuit.
Waiting time fees “were never meant for cyclists who are ready at the designated pickup location but need more time to get in the car,” he said.
Uber had a tax refund policy on waiting times for disabled cyclists whenever they notified the company that they had been charged, the spokesperson said.
“After a recent change last week, now any rider who certifies that they are disabled will automatically be exempt from taxes,” he added.
Uber’s disability problems
Uber began charging passengers for driver wait times in 2016.
The company says passengers pay less than 60 cents on average, and that wheelchair accessible travel or Uber Assist travel has no waiting costs by default.
This isn’t the first time Uber has found itself in trouble with disability issues.
In April, a blind woman in San Francisco was ordered to pay $ 1.1 million after she was refused rides on 14 occasions. In the UK, Paralympic medalist Jack Hunter-Spivey said in September that Uber and other taxi drivers left regularly when they saw he was a wheelchair user.
A 2020 study from the University of Tennessee found that it takes 28% more income for a disabled person in the United States to achieve the same standard of living as a non-disabled person.
Maria Town, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), who suffers from cerebral palsy, told the BBC that people with disabilities often face a “disproportionate economic burden, often due to realities that cannot change. nor check “.
In addition to the higher costs for health care, medical supplies, and accessibility tools, the practice of charging additional costs for services, such as food delivery or waiting times for ride sharing, adds a “fee.” for disabled consumers, he said.
Ending the practice of charging waiting time fees to disabled cyclists would be a “step in the right direction towards economic equality and dignity,” Ms Town added.
The AAPD said it has seen many instances where Uber drivers turned away when they saw the passenger was using a wheelchair, crutches, walker, or assistance dog.
“The presence of disability alone is sometimes enough, it’s a huge problem,” Ms. Town said.
He also said it is unfair of Uber to expect people with disabilities to only use its wheelchair accessible services or Uber Assist.
“It’s not fair on many fronts: there is a limited supply of these cars on the road, but even people with disabilities may not want assistance,” he stressed.
Forcing someone to take a service ride could cause “some tense interactions between driver and rider that are completely unnecessary,” Ms. Town said.
- United States
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- April 2
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