Judith Smith, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al.
On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) filed a major class action lawsuit against Uber challenging the popular ride-sharing service’s lack of wheelchair-accessible vehicles. The state suit was brought by a coalition of individuals and disability rights groups in the San Francisco Bay Area: the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco, Community Resources for Independent Living, and three individuals who use wheelchairs. It is the first legal challenge to Uber’s wheelchair-inaccessibility on its home turf.
The case, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, challenges Uber’s failure to provide wheelchair-accessible service as a violation of California anti-discrimination law. Wheelchair users cannot rely on Uber as a transportation option because wheelchair-accessible Ubers are rarely, if ever, available. Although Uber advertises a wheelchair accessible service (“Uber WAV”) in the Bay Area, investigations found that in Alameda County, Uber WAV service is simply not available. In San Francisco, 80% of the time, Uber WAV service is unavailable. When it is, a customer may wait as much as 14 times longer than they would for a non-WAV Uber ride.
People who use wheelchairs in the Bay Area already have limited transportation options and, if the company provided equal and non-discriminatory service, it could provide a great benefit to people who use wheelchair accessible vehicles. DRA’s ultimate goal is to ensure that Uber institutes a comprehensive remedial scheme to address its current exclusion of riders with mobility disabilities.