Uber ordered to pay $1.1m to blind passenger who was denied rides 14 times

Ride share giant Uber must pay a blind passenger $1.1m following a discrimination claim that its drivers unlawfully denied her rides on 14 occasions, an arbitrator decided Thursday.

This arbitrator rebuffed the company’s position that it wasn’t liable for drivers’ behavior given their status as contractors, according to news website Insider.

San Francisco Bay Area resident Lisa Irving, who is blind and uses a guide dog, made a claim against Uber in 2018, maintaining that “she was either denied a ride altogether or harassed by Uber drivers not wanting to transport her with her guide dog”. As a result, Irving was left stranded late at night, which made her late to work – and led to her eventual firing.

Twice, Irving claimed, drivers bullied and verbally abused her. Drivers’ discriminatory behavior continued despite her complaining to Uber, she said.

“Of all Americans who should be liberated by the rideshare revolution, the blind and visually impaired are among those who stand to benefit the most,” one of Irving’s lawyers, Catherine Cabalo, said in a statement to Insider.

“However, the track record of major rideshare services has been spotty at best and openly discriminatory at worst,”the statement added. “The bottom line is that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a guide dog should be able to go anywhere that a blind person can go.”

Uber reportedly said it vehemently disagreed with this arbitrator’s decision.

“We are proud Uber’s technology has helped people who are blind locate and obtain rides. Drivers using the Uber app are expected to serve riders with service animals and comply with accessibility and other laws, and we regularly provide education to drivers on that responsibility. Our dedicated team looks into each complaint and takes appropriate action,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement to the Guardian.

The arbitrator determined that Uber staffers who looked into discrimination allegations were trained “to coach drivers to find non-discriminatory reasons for ride denials…[and] ‘advocate’ to keep drivers on the platform despite discrimination complaints.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits transportation businesses which are governed by this law to deny transporting persons with guide dogs.

The arbitrator determined that Uber was responsible for ADA violations given its “contractual supervision over its drivers and for its failure to prevent discrimination by properly training its workers”, the news website said.


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