The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Uber, accusing the ride-hailing company of overcharging people with disabilities. According to Justice Department Uber charges “wait time” fees to disabled passengers who require more time to enter a car, which it claims violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA forbids private transportation companies jobs such as Uber from discriminating against their customers.
According to the Law and Justice Department complaint, Uber allegedly failed to reasonably modify its wait time fee policy for passengers who require more than two minutes to get into an Uber car due to disability. In one alleged discrimination case, a passenger in a manual wheelchair was charged a wait time fee for every ride she took since May of last year.
Another passenger, who has cerebral palsy, has been charged a wait time fee nearly every time he used Uber. When the passenger contacted Uber’s customer service about the wait time fees, Uber initially refunded some of them. However, after receiving a certain number of refunds, a customer service representative allegedly informed him that he had reached the maximum number of refunds and would no longer be eligible for any additional refunds.
“Uber’s policies and practices of charging wait time fees based on disability have harmed many passengers and potential passengers with disabilities throughout the country,” the Justice Department said.
The department is requesting a court order to compel Uber to stop discriminating against people with disabilities; to modify its wait time fee policy to comply with the ADA; to train its staff and drivers on the ADA; to pay money damages to people who have been subjected to illegal wait time fees and to pay a civil penalty to vindicate the public’s interest in eliminating disability discrimination.
According to Uber drivers who testified before an Australian Senate committee last week, drivers currently have no recourse or compensation if their accounts are wrongfully deactivated.
As part of their testimony to the Senate committee, two Uber drivers described how their accounts on the platform were wrongfully deactivated. One driver job”s account was allegedly deactivated for five days after a passenger falsely claimed that the driver was violent, while another claimed that their account was deactivated for a day after one of their passengers complained about feeling uncomfortable due to wearing a mask during the ride.
The Senate Committee is currently investigating whether Australia’s gig economy workers are being fairly compensated and if they have adequate health and safety protections in place.