By Aryaman Bhatia, Science and Tech editor, The Pawprint
The US Justice Department (DoJ) has filed a lawsuit against the ride-hailing service Uber, alleging that it has overcharged handicapped individuals. The Department of Justice contends that Uber’s “wait time” surcharges discriminate against handicapped clients who require more than two minutes to get into a car.
It states that Uber must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, Uber stated that the wait time costs were not meant to apply to handicapped clients and that the payments have been refunded.
According to Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s civil rights division, the complaint aims to convey a “strong message that Uber cannot penalize customers with disabilities just because they require more time to get into a car.”
However, Uber stated that it disputed that its rules violated the ADA. According to a spokeswoman, the corporation had been in discussions with the DOJ prior to the “surprising and disappointing” complaint. Wait time costs, he claims, were “never intended for riders who are ready at their specified pickup spot but require additional time to get into the car.”
According to the representative, Uber has a policy of refunding wait time costs to hadicapped riders who notify the company that they have been charged. “Fees are now automatically waived for any rider who verifies they are hadicapped, thanks to a recent adjustment last week,” he continued.
In 2016, Uber began charging riders for driver wait periods. According to the company, users are charged less than 60 cents on average, and wheelchair-accessible or Uber Assist journeys do not have any wait time cost by default.
It’s not the first time Uber has gotten into trouble over handicap concerns. It was ordered in April to compensate a blind lady in San Francisco $1.1 million after she was rejected rides 14 times.
In the United Kingdom, Paralympic medalist Jack Hunter-Spivey reported in September that Uber and other taxi drivers frequently drove away when they spotted he was in a wheelchair.
According to a 2020 research conducted by the University of Tennessee, it takes 28% more money for a handicapped person in the United States to have the same level of life as a non-disabled person.
According to the AAPD, several Uber drivers have driven away when they spotted a client using a wheelchair, crutches, a walker, or a service dog. “The presence of a handicap alone is sometimes enough, it’s a significant issue,” Ms. Town said, describing a 2017 incident involving a guy in Texas with a genetic disease that altered his looks.
She also stated that it was unjust for Uber to demand handicapped individuals to just utilize their wheelchair-accessible services or Uber Assist.