Justice Department sues Uber over wait time charges for passengers with disabilities
The US Department of Justice is suing Uber for imposing wait time fees on passengers with disabilities.
“Uber cannot penalize passengers with disabilities just because they need more time to get into a car,” US Deputy Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in Wednesday’s announcement.
Waiting time charges violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits private transportation companies from discriminating against people with disabilities, according to the Justice Department. As of 2016, Uber charges the fees for all customers in certain locations. The charge can take effect after an Uber driver has already waited two minutes for the passenger. (For Uber Premier, it starts at five minutes.) The fee will then increase every minute until the trip begins.
Federal officials say Uber has not “reasonably changed” the policy on wait times for passengers with disabilities. This includes people who use a wheelchair or walker and need more time to store the equipment inside the vehicle.
“The department’s lawsuit alleges that even when Uber is aware that a passenger’s need for overtime is clearly based on a disability, Uber begins to charge a wait time fee at the two-minute mark,” says the Ministry of Justice.
In response, federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which demands that the company end the alleged discrimination and pay damages, including a civil penalty.
However, Uber denies that this is an ADA violation. Instead, the company says it waived wait time charges when a passenger with a disability requests it. “Our policy has been to reimburse waiting time charges for passengers with disabilities whenever they alerted us that they have been billed,” an Uber spokesperson said. “After a recent change last week, now any runner who certifies they are disabled will have their fees automatically waived.”
According to Uber, a passenger with a disability can request waiver of wait time charges by reviewing a travel receipt on the Uber app and selecting “Review my charges and fares,” then tapping “Dispute my long-term charges. ‘waiting’. They can also go to the Uber website, go to the “Help” page and select “Travel issues and refunds”, then click “Dispute my wait time charges”.
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“Riders can now voluntarily certify that their disability has an impact on their ability to board a vehicle within the allotted time. The waiting time charges will then be automatically waived for runners who provide this certification, ”adds the company. “A new support page will also be released today, with simple instructions that can be followed before any race.”
Additionally, the company says passengers who request wheelchair accessible Uber travel or Uber Assist travel never face a default wait time charge. The Uber spokesperson added, “We recognize that many passengers with disabilities depend on Uber for their transportation needs, which is why we have been in active discussions with the DOJ on how to resolve any concerns or confusion. before this surprising and disappointing trial. “
In the meantime, the Justice Department is calling on all passengers with disabilities who have paid wait time charges using Uber to contact the agency.
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