Lyft Sued for Discriminating Against Wheelchair-Users

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Traffic on San Francisco's Bay Bridge.

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Berkeley, CA (March 13, 2018)—Today, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) filed a major class action lawsuit against Lyft, challenging the popular ride-sharing service’s failure to make wheelchair-accessible vehicles available in the Bay Area through its rideshare service. The suit, brought by a coalition of a disability rights group and individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the first legal challenge to Lyft’s wheelchair-inaccessibility on its home turf. The plaintiffs—Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco and two individuals who use wheelchairs—brought this action to end Lyft’s discriminatory practices and policies.

Lyft does not provide wheelchair-accessible transportation in the Bay Area. The case challenges Lyft’s failure to provide wheelchair-accessible service as a violation of California anti-discrimination laws.

Lyft’s discrimination compounds what is already a major societal problem – extremely limited transportation options for people who use wheelchairs in the Bay Area. For instance, many parts of the BART system are inaccessible due to elevator outages. Bus service is often slow and may not take riders where they need to go. Wheelchair-accessible Ubers are rarely, if ever, available.

Lyft has become an important transportation option in the Bay Area. If the company provided equal and non-discriminatory service, it would revolutionize the lives of people who need wheelchair accessible vehicles. However, Lyft, a multi-billion-dollar company, neglects people with disabilities who use wheelchairs and excludes them altogether – in direct violation of the law.

Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages, but rather equal access to Lyft for themselves and the class. Their ultimate goal is to ensure that Lyft institutes a comprehensive remedy to address its current exclusion of riders with mobility disabilities.

Plaintiff Tara Ayres said, “If Lyft would provide wheelchair accessible vehicles, I could be spontaneous and more mobile in the community, just like everyone else.  It is devastating and disheartening that in this day in age, Lyft has completely excluded people like me.”

Jessie Lorenz, Executive Director of the Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco, said, “Lyft provides a vital service in the Bay Area, and many of our consumers who use wheelchairs are simply excluded from it because Lyft has done nothing to make its service accessible to them. Ridesharing is the wave of the future, and people with disabilities must be a part of it.”

Rebecca Williford, senior staff attorney at Disability Rights Advocates, said, “DRA will not tolerate Lyft leaving behind people with disabilities. We will hold them accountable until they comply with their obligation to provide equal access.”

In addition to the case filed today against Lyft, DRA has filed cases against Uber in New York and California for their failure to serve riders who use wheelchairs.  These cases are critical to protecting the rights of wheelchair-users throughout the country.

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Independent Living Resource Center of San Francisco (ILRC) works to ensure that people with disabilities are full social and economic partners within their families and within a fully accessible community. ILRC actively advocates on transportation issues and is a lead plaintiff in a case against BART for failing to ensure that people with disabilities can access the regional mass transit system. ilrcsf.org

Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), founded in 1993, is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center.  Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide.  DRA represents people with the full spectrum of disabilities in complex, system-changing, class action cases.  Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and housing. dralegal.org

Contacts

Melissa Riess: (510) 665-8644, mriess@dralegal.org

Rebecca Williford: (510) 665-8644, rwilliford@dralegal.org

Case Page

Ayres v. Lyft