National Federation of the Blind of California, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al.

Click here for case documents Guide-Dog Users Combat Discrimination by Uber Date Settled: 04/30/2016 Status:

Page Contents

Introduction

In 2016, DRA reached an unprecedented settlement with Uber to stop discrimination against blind people who use guide dogs on the Uber platform.

DRA is currently monitoring Uber’s compliance with the settlement agreement. If you were denied service by an Uber driver because you travel with a service animal after January 15, 2017, please read the section below on addressing ongoing discrimination and let us know about the issue.

Case Background

DRA, with co-counsel TRE Legal and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld, represents the National Federal of the Blind (NFB), its California affiliate, and several blind individuals who use guide dogs, who filed this lawsuit to ensure that blind people have reliable and equal access to Uber transportation. After over a year of litigation and settlement negotiations, the parties agreed to a nationwide class-action settlement that requires Uber to take important steps to end discrimination against blind people with guide dogs in its transportation network.

Uber arranges convenient on-demand rides for consumers throughout the United States. However, Uber has not always provided its services to blind customers who use guide dogs on an equal basis—many drivers have refused to transport blind individuals who travel with guide dogs. The transportation services industry is experiencing significant growth and change, and blind individuals who use guide dogs cannot be excluded from the benefits of the new transportation landscape.

Settlement

Thanks to this lawsuit and the resulting settlement, blind individuals who use guide dogs will be able to use Uber services without facing a high risk of discrimination. Uber has agreed to:

  • Require that drivers provide equal service to people with disabilities who travel with service animals.
  • Permanently remove drivers from the platform if Uber finds that the driver knowingly denied service to someone with a service animal because of their service animal. Drivers may not deny service because of allergies or fear of dogs.
  • Permanently remove drivers who are alleged to have refused service more than once, regardless of their intent or knowledge, as long as the complaints are plausible.
  • Notify new drivers and existing drivers of their obligations to serve people with service animals when they sign up, through the app, and via email reminders. Uber also includes an agreement to comply with these obligations in the driver contract.
  • Require all drivers to read and correctly answer questions about service animal obligations in an interactive pop-up in the app.
  • Respond to customer complaints about service animal discrimination in a timely manner, and notify customers about the outcome of Uber’s investigation into the incident, including whether the driver has been permanently removed from the system.

Uber has also agreed to clarify its policies limiting discriminatory cleaning fees. Uber will track and respond to reports of discrimination more effectively. The NFB and its affiliate will deploy blind riders with guide dogs to test for compliance, and an independent monitor will review Uber’s compliance with the agreement. Uber has agreed to negotiate further changes with the lawyers for the class if additional policy changes prove necessary during the next three years of settlement. These improvements will enhance the reliability and usability of Uber’s extensive transportation network for blind and visually-disabled people across the country.

Addressing Ongoing Discrimination

The settlement went into effect in early 2017. In these initial stages of the settlement period, there may continue to be discrimination on the platform. As drivers become more knowledgeable about their obligations to provide equal service to people with disabilities and see that Uber is enforcing the rules, and as discriminatory drivers are permanently removed from the platform, the rate of discrimination in the Uber system should decrease.

Attorneys from Disability Rights Advocates, TRE Legal, and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld will be monitoring Uber’s compliance with the settlement over the next few years.

If you travel with a service animal and are discriminated against on the Uber platform after January 17, 2017 please tell Uber and us about the issue.

  1. Notify Uber by submitting a complaint. Tell Uber where and when the incident happened. Include why you believe that the driver knew or should have known your animal was a service animal. Uber will investigate the complaint. You have a right to find out the outcome of the investigation, including the consequences for the driver.
  2. Notify us so that we can check with Uber to make sure they are properly following up on complaints and removing drivers from the platform. You can notify us by sending an email to Kyle Ruiz at kruiz@dralegal.org. Please include details about the denial of service, including date, location, name of driver, vehicle, what happened, why you believe that the driver knew or should have known your animal was a service animal, whether you submitted a complaint to Uber, and how Uber responded.
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