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Friday, December 9, 2022

The United States has filed a lawsuit against Uber, alleging that the company discriminated against persons with disabilities

A lawsuit against Uber was filed on Wednesday by the Department of Justice, accusing the firm of discriminating against customers with disabilities by charging them fees when they need more time to enter ride-hailing cars.

In 2016, Uber implemented a charge policy to pay drivers who waited more than two minutes for a customer to arrive. The lawsuit derives from this policy. Previously, drivers were not compensated for their time until the journey started, which was irritating for those who were often forced to wait for extended periods of time for customers.

In contrast, the Justice Department said that Uber did not alter the wait time costs for persons with disabilities, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal statute that bans private transportation firms from discriminating against people with disabilities. According to the Justice Department, a passenger could need more time to disassemble a wheelchair or walker and store it in the vehicle, or a blind passenger would require additional time to travel to the automobile. Although Uber was aware that someone required longer time due of their handicap, the business charged them for waiting more than two minutes, according to the lawsuit.

As of Wednesday, Uber claimed that it has been in negotiations with the Justice Department regarding its wait time regulations, which were designed primarily for riders who were delaying drivers and not for customers who needed more time to get into the vehicle. In response to passengers with impairments who complained about being overcharged, the firm stated it had returned them their money. The company also announced last week that it has changed its policy to automatically waive wait time costs for customers who identify themselves as handicapped.

An Uber representative said the complaint was “surprising and disheartening,” according to a statement from Matt Kallman. “We firmly disagree that our standards violate the Disability act Act, and we will keep improving our products to support everyone’s ability to easily move around their neighbourhoods,” he said.

Prior to this investigation, the Justice Department looked into Lyft’s policy of allowing its drivers to refuse trips to clients using wheelchairs or walkers. According to the settlement, Lyft agreed to alter its wheelchair regulations, compensate four passengers between $4,000 and $30,000 in damages, and pay a civil penalty of up to $40,000 in the case of the wheelchair passengers.

Uber has previously been investigated by the Justice Department for data breaches in 2014 and 2016. An ex-Uber executive was charged last year with attempting to hide the 2016 breach from federal investigators, according to the agency.

According to the latest action, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Uber must cease discriminating against persons with impairments. It also wants the court to order Uber to modify its wait time policy for persons with disabilities, teach its staff and drivers on the Americans with Disabilities Act, compensate customers who have been adversely impacted by the wait time policy, and pay a civil penalty to the federal government.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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