National Federation of the Blind of California, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al.Guide-Dog Users Combat Discrimination by Uber
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.
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.
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.
The settlement went into effect in early 2017. If you have experienced discrimination by an Uber driver who refused to give you a ride because of your service animal, you can file a report about it both at the Uber complaint page and with the NFB’s testing program.
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.
Filing complaints takes time and can be inconvenient when you are simply trying to reach your travel destination. But your complaints to Uber and to the NFB’s testing program are making a difference because they enable our legal team to ensure Uber is fulfilling its settlement commitments.
Here’s what you can do:
- Complain to Uber. The agreement requires Uber to investigate reports and if appropriate, take action against the drivers. In addition, Uber collects data on the number of complaints they receive which is very important to ensuring it is complying with the agreement.
Please keep in mind the following when using Uber and submitting complaints when you experience discrimination:
- Help the driver know it is not a pet. Tell your driver, via text or in person, that you are traveling with your service animal.
- Tell Uber how your driver knew it was a service animal. When you complain, let them know that you told the driver about your service animal via text or on the phone, or that the animal was wearing a harness. If your driver cancels right after receiving a text letting them know that you are traveling with your service animal, this is evidence of discrimination. If the incident was witnessed by another person, tell Uber and if possible provide contact information for the witness.
- Report non-service denial discrimination. If you experience forms of discrimination related to your service animal other than being denied a ride, please report these to Uber and to NFB or our legal team.
- Report accessibility issues. Continue to let Uber and the NFB know about any technical/accessibility problems you encounter using the apps or complaint forms.
Report to NFB. When you register your incident with the NFB, we can follow up with Uber about your complaint. You also can notify us by sending an email to Melissa Riess at firstname.lastname@example.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.