Uber was ordered to pay in excess of $1 million to Lisa Irving, a blind Uber rider who brought a claim alleging 14 different incidents of discrimination by Uber drivers. Counsel for Ms. Irving said they believe this may be the largest award ever issued to a blind passenger for repeated driver violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) – and they filed a petition to confirm the award in San Francisco Superior Court in April.
The suit was filed after Uber failed to remedy its drivers’ repeated refusals to provide Ms. Irving (a San Francisco area woman) appropriate transportation on the grounds of her blindness and use of a guide dog. In addition to refusal to provide rides, Uber’s drivers also abandoned Ms. Irving in dangerous places at late hours, verbally abused her (15 times in one instance), and even cut a trip short and falsely claimed she had been delivered to the destination she had specified. At various times, Ms. Irving feared for her safety and was left in potentially life-threatening situations, she said.
The arbitrator in the case concluded: “Uber is liable for each of these incidents under the (Department of Justice) interpretation of the ADA, as well as due to Uber’s contractual supervision over its drivers and for its failure to prevent discrimination by properly training its workers.”
There are an estimated one million blind people in the United States; roughly 5% of them are believed to work with guide dogs.