Blind Bargains

Uber Settles With NFB: Will Deactivate Drivers who are Barking up the Wrong Tree

Friday, Uber Announced that they reached a settlement with the National Federation of the Blind for $225,000, and stated they will make some modifications to their policy to make the consequences for drivers refusing a user with a service animal more clear.

If the settlement goes through, on top of the $225,000, Uber has stated that it will take further steps to enforce the policy that drivers are not permitted to refuse service to someone who has a service animal. "periodic" emails will be sent to all drivers. Even if drivers do not check email, the statement further indicated that drivers will encounter a pop-up in the Uber app reminding them of this policy. If drivers are found to have refused a rider based on the fact that they have a service animal, Uber has said it will deactivate that driver's account. For the NFB's part, they will be having members test the service to ensure the policy is enforced. If the settlement is approved by a judge, the NFB states that it will resolve the 2014 lawsuit, according to wording in this press release.

Uber already had policies in place related to accessibility. In a July 9, 2015 post, Uber said that drivers must comply with all local, state, and federal laws concerning transportation of riders with disabilities. The post further sates: "A transportation partner s violation of the laws governing the accommodation of riders with disabilities, including with respect to the use of service animals, constitutes a breach of the parties Licensing Agreement. Accordingly, service animals must be accommodated in compliance with accessibility laws. Additionally, partners are expected to accommodate riders using walkers, canes, folding wheelchairs or other assistive devices to the maximum extent possible.
Any report of discrimination will result in temporary account deactivation while Uber reviews the incident. Confirmed violations of the law with respect to accommodation of riders with disabilities may result in permanent loss of access to the Uber platform."

Uber has also previously sent out emails to drivers regarding accessibility which make specific reference to service animals. One such email sent in September of 2015 forwarded by a driver, stated very similar sentiments to those above regarding service animals. "The
Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, requires you to accept service
animals on rides. It also says you cannot ask a rider what their disability
is or to show proof of disability or service animal certification.
These animals come in all shapes & sizes and are not always dogs. Not sure
if a rider s animal is a service animal? Just ask! If they say yes, the ADA
says you must accommodate them." The email also reiterates the policy that complaints will result in temporary sustention of the driver's account, and permanent deactivation if the driver is found to have discriminated against the rider.

At the time of writing, there is no official word on whether the settlement has been approved by the judge presiding over the case.

What do you all think? Will this settlement cut down further on the refusal of drivers to accept passengers with service animals? Feel free to have your say in the comments.

Source: Uber Settlement with the NFB
Category: News
Displaying 2 comments.
darknexus Tuesday, 03-May-2016 07:47 AM ET:

So the NFB gets more money, and the rest of us look like pretentious fools. Business as usual, great job NFB.

jmannion Saturday, 07-May-2016 3:55 PM ET:

I agree it may have been the wrong way to address a problem that needs a solution, but it is definitely a problem that needs to be solved though. I love the ride services like Uber and Lyft and have met some great drivers, but I have had quite a number of problems with drivers that are convinced they can follow their own rules and preferences about whatever they want, including how they feel about service animals. Some give you a story about why they don't want service animals in their car and they think that's a license to act upon those preferences. I report each and every one of them with a complaint to Uber, but I am not sure what truly happens after that between them and the drivers.

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