The Equal Rights Center filed suit in federal court in the District of Columbia alleging that Uber Technologies, Inc. and two of its affiliates (collectively, “Uber”) have adopted and maintained policies that either exclude wheelchair users entirely from Uber services, or relegate them to inferior services with excessive wait times and much higher fares. The lawsuit alleges that, as a result, wheelchair users are deprived of the substantial benefits that Uber provides to all of its other customers, thereby making it harder for them to travel to work, school, medical appointments and community events.

After receiving complaints from its members and others, ERC conducted an investigation of Uber’s services, and found that wait times for an accessible vehicle through Uber’s TAXI WAV option were as much as eight times longer than for the standard UberX option, and that fares were almost twice as much.

The lawsuit maintains that Uber’s actions violate Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires companies like Uber to provide “full and equal enjoyment” of Uber’s services. It further asserts that Uber’s actions also constitute violations of the D.C. Human Rights Act (DCHRA), which guarantees “an equal opportunity to participate fully in the economic, cultural and intellectual life of the District” for people with disabilities. ERC seeks an injunction requiring Uber to make its services accessible to wheelchair users, and other monetary and equitable relief.

On March 15, 2021, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson denied Uber’s motion to dismiss, holding that ERC had standing to proceed on its claims under the ADA and DCHRA, and rejecting Uber’s arguments that it could not be held liable for discrimination because it was merely a technology company that acted as a “conduit” between passengers and drivers.  The opinion is reported at --- F. Supp. 3d --- 2021 WL 981011 (March 15, 2021).

The Relman Colfax litigation team is joined by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs as co-counsel.

Case Caption

Equal Rights Center v. Uber Technologies, Inc., No. 1:17-cv-1272 (D.D.C.)

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