The hugely popular ride-sharing service Uber is facing a lawsuit that claims it discriminates against blind people by not allowing guide dogs into Uber vehicles. The suit has been backed by a federal ruling in California after U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins ruled the plaintiffs had a case since Uber qualifies in his eyes as a “travel service.” This classification means Uber would be liable to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Uber’s attorneys argued that the plaintiffs, which includes the organization National Federation of the Blind of California, lacked the proper standing for due recourse under the ADA. Judge Cousins rejected this claim and has given Uber 14 days to formally respond, reports Reuters. The lawsuit could prove to be complicated, as each driver is an independent contractor and not an employee of Uber.
The plaintiffs are claiming that they know of and can prove more than 40 instances where Uber drivers refused to allow service dogs entry into their vehicles. To make matters worse, the plaintiffs cite another incident in which a driver locked a woman’s guide dog in the trunk of the car during a ride. The woman realized with horror that her dog was in the car’s trunk and demanded that the driver pull over. He allegedly refused to pull over and release her guide dog.
This is not the beginning nor the end of the problems that the San Francisco miracle child startup will have to solve.
Uber faces frequent criticism for how it pays its drivers, how it charges its customers, and other issues, including everything from sexual harassment and rape accusations, to safety concerns. There’s also the small question of Uber’s legality in certain countries around the world. The service already faces bans in a number of places.