Uber has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging the ride-sharing company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by overcharging passengers with disabilities. The company will offer multimillion-dollar compensation to more than 65,000 Uber users who were “paid discriminatory fees due to disability,” according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.
The DOJ originally filed a lawsuit in November 2021 alleging that Uber violated ADA Title III, which prohibits discrimination by private transportation companies. Rather than take the claims to court, Uber has agreed to credit the accounts of eligible riders with double the amount of the waiting fees they were charged, which could potentially total hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in compensation. The company will also pay $1,738,500 to 1,000 riders who complained to Uber about being charged a wait time fee due to disability, and an additional $500,000 to others affected.
Uber’s agreement to settle this case means more than bringing justice to people with disabilities who have been discriminated against. It’s also another case where Uber has been forced to settle a dispute that identifies the ride-sharing giant as a ride-hailing company, rather than just a platform that connects freelance drivers with passengers. as Uber has attempted to define itself in the past. For example, in February Uber settled a class action lawsuit against California drivers, paying $8.4 million for wrongfully classifying them as contractors rather than employees. By conceding to a legal definition that requires Uber to follow laws like the ADA, Uber is also going further down the road of treating its drivers as employees.
According to the DOJ complaint, Uber began charging riders waiting fees in a number of cities before expanding nationwide in April 2016. The fees would begin once the driver was at the pick-up point for two minutes and would continue until the start of the ride. Two minutes is not long for a person with a disability, who may be navigating with a wheelchair or walker that needs to be dismantled and stored in the car, or may be blind and need more time to reach the place of supported.
The lawsuit says that even when Uber was aware of a passenger’s need for more time due to a disability, the company continued to charge a wait time fee.
“People with disabilities shouldn’t feel like second-class citizens or punished because of their disability, which is exactly what Uber’s wait time fee policy has done,” the attorney general said. Deputy Kristen Clarke of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. “This agreement sends a strong message that Uber and other ride-sharing companies will be held accountable if their services discriminate against people with disabilities.”
In addition to paying a monetary fee, Uber has agreed to waive wait time fees for all riders who certify that they or one of their own will require additional time to board an Uber due to of a disability. He has also agreed to advertise this fee waiver program and ensure that his customer service team is ready to reimburse anyone who does not have a waiver and is charged a fee. waiting time due to disability.
Uber did not respond in time to questions about how the fee waiver program would affect drivers, and whether they will be compensated directly by Uber in cases where they have to wait more than two minutes for a disabled person.
Last week, Uber got itself in hot water for its past expansion tactics when a former Uber lobbyist leaked thousands of confidential documents. The Uber Files, as they are now called, reveal a history of Uber participating in covert lobbying, breaking the law and exploiting drivers. Uber is also currently the subject of a lawsuit brought by at least dozens of women who were sexually assaulted by drivers.