🚗 Does Uber Violate ADA Protections?

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Uber alleging the ridesharing giant discriminates against disabled users of its service by charging a “wait time” fee while they enter the car.

The fee is incurred by passengers if their trip hasn’t begun two minutes after their car arrives (thereby protecting drivers from excessively tardy customers), but disabled users of the app claim these few minutes are necessary just to enter the vehicle.

  • "People with disabilities deserve equal access to all areas of community life, including the private transportation services provided by companies like Uber," Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

  • Meanwhile, Uber claims that it refunds disabled users’ these fees if they alert the company that they were charged, reports The Verge. But this claim is in direct opposition to the allegations made by one of the victims in the federal suit, which states that “Uber’s refusal to refund her money or to change its wait time fee policy makes Passenger A feel like a second-class citizen.”

A History of Violation

Uber has already faced two notable lawsuits regarding ADA compliance. In 2017, disability advocates sued the company alleging excessively long wait-times for wheelchair-accessible vehicles (or WAVs) in New York City. The company even sued the city in an attempt to block new requirements around WAVs. Then again in 2019, disability activists sued Uber over excessively long waits, this time in Philadelphia. Disabled passengers waited as long as an hour for a WAV, the Philadelphia Inquirer noted.

The Verdict

Sure, this is not the first time Uber is being sued for discriminating against its disabled customers—but will a federal lawsuit rather than a civil one be what finally changes things?