Federal Court Rules That Civil Rights Claims Against Uber Must Be Heard in Court

A row of taxis not being used in Pittsburgh, PA
A row of taxis not being used in Pittsburgh, PA


Ruling comes after Uber tried to avoid its legal responsibility to provide transportation accessible for all

PITTSBURGH, PA (November 13, 2019) – Yesterday, a federal court in Pittsburgh ruled that plaintiffs suing Uber for failing to provide transportation accessible to people with disabilities cannot be forced into arbitration and must have their claims heard openly in federal court.

Filed on June 11, 2019, the lawsuit seeks modifications to Uber’s policies and practices to ensure that the company makes wheelchair-accessible vehicles readily available to Pittsburgh riders who need them. Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages.

“We filed this lawsuit to ensure that Uber and other ridesharing companies provide transportation that is accessible to all, including people with disabilities,” said Disability Rights Advocates staff attorney Melissa Riess and Carlson Lynch LLP Founding Partner R. Bruce Carlson. “Facing a number of accessibility lawsuits around the country, Uber has repeatedly tried to prevent these claims from being heard in court to avoid their legal obligation to provide accessible transportation. This ruling reinforces that the right to accessible transportation is a civil right, and it cannot be denied to our clients or anyone else.

“Plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages. This suit is not about money. It’s about ensuring an inclusive transportation system for all Pittsburghers.”

The ruling means that the plaintiffs can proceed in federal court and have their claims heard under federal civil rights laws – allowing the case to proceed on the plaintiffs’ claims of systemic discrimination by Uber against people with disabilities.

Drawing on previous rulings in similar cases, the court rejected as “meritless” Uber’s novel argument that people who have not downloaded Uber’s app or signed up to its terms of use could be forced into arbitration and upheld the basic legal principle that someone cannot be bound by a contract they did not agree to.

In addition to the case filed against Uber in Pittsburgh, DRA has filed cases against Uber in New York and California for their failure to serve riders who use wheelchairs. DRA has also filed a case against Uber’s competitor Lyft in California. These cases are critical to protecting the rights of wheelchair-users throughout the country. More background on the case is available here.

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About Disability Rights Advocates

With offices in New York and California, Disability Rights Advocates is the leading nonprofit disability rights legal center in the nation. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with all types of disabilities in complex, system-changing, class action cases. DRA is proud to have upheld the promise of the ADA since our inception. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to education, health care, employment, transportation, disaster preparedness planning, voting, and housing. For more information, visit dralegal.org.

About Carlson Lynch LLP

Carlson Lynch, LLP is a national class action firm which currently has more than 20 lawyers spread across offices in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Since 2010, the firm has dedicated significant resources to litigation on behalf of individuals with disabilities. The firm is committed to pursuing impactful cases that advance the interests of the disabled community on the largest possible scale. Carlson Lynch also regularly litigates class actions involving data breach, privacy, consumer protection, and wage and hour violations.


Charles Kretchmer Lutvak

Charles@risaheller.com / (929) 265-3094