Historically, Uber has argued that it is a technology company and thus, not subject to the ADA. However, this statement did not stop PWD rights advocate group Equal Rights Center from filing a lawsuit against the company.
According to them, the rideshare giant is “denying wheelchair users full and equal enjoyment of [its] transportation service.”Furthermore, Uber is also allegedly violating the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act and the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act. These laws prohibit discrimination in public accommodations against people with disabilities.
WAMU radio was the first to report on the 29-page suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court.
Furthermore, the suit claims that not one of the 30,000 Uber vehicles that roam the Washington region is wheelchair-accessible.
And instead of allowing wheelchair-accessible vehicles into its fleet, Uber activated an accessibility-oriented feature known as Taxi WAV which pairs wheelchair users with local cabs.
However, ERC’s research found wheelchair users endured waits eight times longer than UberX users and paid up to double the fares using the service.
“TAXI WAV does nothing to expand the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles available in D.C.,” the suit reads. “Instead, it merely redirects requests for wheelchair accessible vehicles to any accessible D.C. taxicabs that happen to be in service.”
Furthermore, Heidi Case, a disability rights advocate, says that Uber is a “wonderful, helpful service”. But Uber’s lack of wheelchair access shows that the company has “absolutely no moral compass”.
“Uber is capable of incorporating wheelchair accessible vehicles into its basic service option, but it chooses not to do so in D.C.,” the lawsuit reads. “Far from embracing accessibility options, Uber has told at least one individual that he could not drive for Uber if he used a wheelchair accessible vehicle.”
Uber did not comment directly about the lawsuit, but the company issued a statement affirming its commitment to accessibility.
“We take this issue seriously and are committed to continued work with the District, our partners, and stakeholders toward expanding transportation options and freedom of movement for all residents throughout the region,” Uber spokesman Bill Gibbons said.
Moreover, Uber claims it has recently committed at least $25,000 to D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles in order to improve wheelchair accessibility in the region. The company also added that it plans to steer substantially more toward such services in the coming year.