The Department of Justice is suing Uber over its wait-time fees, arguing that the policy discriminates against people with disabilities.
The department argues Uber‘s fees, which begin two minutes after a driver arrives at a pick-up spot, violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Many passengers with disabilities require more than two minutes to board or load into a vehicle for various reasons, including because they may use mobility aids and devices such as wheelchairs and walkers that need to be broken down and stored in the vehicle or because they simply need additional time to board the vehicle,” the 11-page complaint states.
The corporation has provided wait-time fee refunds to some passengers with disabilities upon request, but others have been denied refunds, according to the suit.
Because Uber has gained popularity for on-demand transportation over traditional taxi services, the department claims it “plays an important role in ensuring independence for countless people with disabilities who choose to – or simply must – rely on its services to travel.”
The Justice Department wants a judge to declare that Uber is violating the ADA and to order the company to change its wait-time policy.
It also seeks a civil penalty against the company “to vindicate the public interest,” as well as monetary damages and compensatory damages for emotional distress and other injuries to those affected by the policy.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said the suit aims to ensure the corporation is complying with the ADA, “while sending a powerful message that Uber cannot penalize passengers with disabilities simply because they need more time to get into a car.”
Uber is a Delaware-based corporation headquartered in San Francisco.
Uber spokesperson Noah Edwardsen told The Washington Times on Thursday that the corporation fundamentally disagrees that its policies violate the ADA.
“It has been our policy to refund wait time fees for disabled riders whenever they alerted us that they were charged,” he said. “After a recent change last week, now any rider who certifies they are disabled will have fees automatically waived.”
Mr. Edwardsen added that the corporation “had been in active discussions with the DOJ about how to address any concerns or confusion before this surprising and disappointing lawsuit.”