Uber have been sued by the US Justice Department for charging a “wait time” fee to disabled passengers.
The DOJ have claimed that the transport company’s “wait time” are discriminatory to those who are disabled and therefore need more time to board and do not abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as stated by the complaint filed in a San Francisco federal court.
The DOJ is asking the court to apprehend the policy as well as punish the company and compensate passengers.
Cited in the complaint was the service received by two disabled passengers which included a quadriplegic woman aged 52 who relied on Uber to travel back and forth from her home in Louisville, Kentucky, to a rehabilitation center.
Assistance attorney general for the DOJ’s civil rights division, Kristen Clarke, said the lawsuit aimed to drive a “powerful message that Uber cannot penalize passengers with disabilities simply because they need more time to get into a car”.
She continued by saying that transportation companies including Uber “must ensure equal access for all people, including those with disabilities”.
Uber responded by claiming that the wait time fees were not intended for disabled people.
An Uber spokesman, Matt Kallman, said: “Wait-time fees are charged to all riders to compensate drivers after two minutes of waiting, but were never intended for riders who are ready at their designated pickup location but need more time to get into the car.
“We recognize that many riders with disabilities depend on Uber for their transportation needs, which is why we had been in active discussions with the DOJ about how to address any concerns or confusion before this surprising and disappointing lawsuit.”
The waiting time fee was first introduced by Uber in 2016. Uber say that riders are charged on average lower than 60 cents, and that trips which require assistance or wheelchair access do not these fees included.