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Uber is being sued for charging an extra fee to people with disabilities

Why the Justice Department is suing Uber

A man leaves the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco.
A man leaves the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. The Justice Department is suing Uber for charging “wait time” fees that negatively harm those with handicaps or disabilities.
Eric Risberg, Associated Press

The Justice Department is suing Uber for charging “wait time” fees that negatively harm those with handicaps or disabilities.

Uber sued over wait time fees

Federal prosecutors said Uber charges an extra fee starting two minutes after a car arrives until the trip starts. They said this negatively impacts people with disabilities, who might need more time to enter their vehicle.

  • “People with disabilities deserve equal access to all areas of community life, including the private transportation services provided by companies like Uber,” assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.
  • Uber and other companies with transportation services “must ensure equal access for all people, including those with disabilities,” she added, per BBC News.

Per NPR, the lawsuit — which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California — accused Uber of violating Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What Uber says about the lawsuit

Uber denied the idea that its policies violate the ADA, saying the wait time wasn’t intended for those who need more time to get into their car, per CNBC.

  • “We recognize that many riders with disabilities depend on Uber for their transportation needs, which is why we had been in active discussions with the DOJ about how to address any concerns or confusion before this surprising and disappointing lawsuit,” the company said.

Uber’s wait time started in 2016. On average, users are charged less than $0.60, according to Yahoo! Finance. The company has wheelchair-accessible trips or Uber Assist trips that do not include any wait time fees.

Uber’s history with disabilities

Per BBC News, Uber has faced negative press over disability problems in the past. For example, Uber was ordered to pay a blind woman $1.1 million because she was refused rides on 14 occasions.