Uber pledges to make change and pays millions to solve Justice Department lawsuit for overcharging people with disabilities | takeover bid
The Department of Justice filed in court today a multi-million dollar settlement agreement with Uber Technologies Inc. (Uber) to resolve a court case alleging that Uber violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the agreement, Uber will provide multimillion-dollar compensation to more than 65,000 Uber users who were charged discriminatory fees due to disability.
In November 2021, the department filed a lawsuit alleging that Uber violated ADA Title III, which prohibits discrimination by private transportation companies like Uber. According to the complaint, in April 2016, Uber began charging riders waiting fees in a number of cities, eventually expanding the policy nationwide. The wait time charge started two minutes after the Uber car arrived at the pickup location and was charged until the car started its journey. The department’s complaint alleged that Uber violated the ADA by failing to reasonably modify its policy on wait time charges for passengers who, due to a disability, needed more than two minutes to board a Uber car. Disabled passengers may need more time to get into a car for various reasons. A passenger may, for example, use a wheelchair or a walker which must be dismantled and stored in the car. Or a blind passenger may need more time to walk safely from the pick-up location to the car itself. The department’s lawsuit alleged that even when Uber was aware that passengers’ need for additional time was clearly based on disability, Uber began charging a wait time fee at the two-minute mark.
As part of the two-year agreement, Uber has pledged to waive wait time charges for all Uber riders who certify that they (or someone they travel with frequently) need more time to get into an Uber car due to a disability. Uber will also make refunds readily available to anyone who does not have a waiver and is charged a wait time fee due to a disability. Uber will announce the Wait Time Fee Waiver Program and train its customer service representatives on the Waiver Program and refund process to ensure people with disabilities are not charged illegal fees.
Additionally, Uber will credit the accounts of more than 65,000 eligible riders who signed up for the waiver program with double the amount of wait time fees they were charged, which could potentially amount to hundreds of thousands or million dollars in compensation. Uber will also pay $1,738,500 to more than a thousand riders who complained to Uber about being charged a wait time fee due to disability, and $500,000 to others. injured parties identified by the department.
“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 Justice Department’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. The Civil Rights Division remains committed to enforcing the ADA and ensuring that people with disabilities can travel without impediment or indignity.
“Providing equal transportation access for people with disabilities is an important goal of the ADA,” said U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds for the Northern District of California. “Persons with disabilities should have access to ride-sharing services provided by Uber and similar companies without incurring discriminatory wait time charges. This agreement removes this barrier to equal access for passengers with disabilities and provides a mechanism to compensate those harmed by Uber’s past policy on wait time charges.
This case was handled jointly by Assistant U.S. Attorney David DeVito for the Northern District of California and the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division. A copy of the settlement agreement is attached.
For more information about the Civil Rights Division, please visit http://www.justice.gov/crt. For more information about the ADA, please call the department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or visit www.ada.gov. ADA complaints can be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint.