Lawsuit Faced by Uber for Denying Rides to a Woman with Service Animal

Photo by Mark Warner from Flickr

Uber is experiencing yet another series of legal trouble regarding the accessibility issues of the company. D’Edra Steele, a resident of Texas, USA, has sued the ridesharing firm for allegedly denying her approximately 25 rides because of the service dog that she requires for her cerebral palsy. Reportedly, the drivers would either give her excuses (such as dog allergies or a lack of blankets) or would even speed off the moment that they saw the companion animal of Steele. She also had to deal with “disparaging” remarks from some of the times that she was able to get rides.

Steele also said that Uber was not able to do enough to address her concerns. She said that the company would acknowledge her formal complaints, educate the drivers, and give her $5 worth of credits. However, Uber did not follow up as promised — the company even claimed to have talked with Steele over the phone when the call never really happened. The repeated rejection was sufficient to prompt treatment for mental health and a visit to the hospital.

Uber was asked for comment regarding the lawsuit. This is more of a question of the ability of the company to enforce its policies than anything. Uber has a clear service animal policy warning their drivers that they are legally obligated to accept passengers that have service animals, regardless of their rationale (which includes allergies). Uber should dismiss drivers from the service if the driver refuses trips from more than one passenger that has a service animal. However, that does not help if a customer runs into a lot of drivers who are all exhibiting the same discriminatory behaviour towards their customers.

Uber is definitely not the only company that is facing complaints regarding accessibility — Lyft has experienced lawsuits as well. As such, the said incident is as emblematic of problems with ridesharing companies at large as it is any issues with Uber itself.