Uber faces legal action over 'refusal' to carry guide dogs
Lawsuit claims some drivers yelled ’no dogs’ at blind passengers
App-powered cab-hailing service Uber has found itself at the centre of another legal row, this time in its domestic market, as a US federal judge ruled the company must answer a lawsuit alleging discrimination against blind passengers, Reuters reported.
The complaint includes claims that some Uber drivers yelled "no dogs" at blind passengers and locked dogs in car boots. The action includes the claim of 40 incidents of refusal involving Uber drivers.
The plaintiffs may be protected by provisions dealing with travel services in the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the ruling by Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins in San Jose, California. The decision dismissed claims by Uber's legal team that the plaintiffs, which include the National Federation of the Blind of California, did not qualify for ADA and state protections for the disabled.
"Uber is a very popular service, and it is important for riders with service animals to be able to use it like anyone else," said Aaron Zisser, a lawyer for Disability Rights Advocates in Berkeley, California, which helped bring the case.
Uber insisted its corporate policy was to comply with US federal laws on transportation of service animals, which prohibit refusals such as those cited in the legal complaint.
"The Uber app is built to expand access to transportation options for all, including users with visual impairments and other disabilities," the company said, claiming it was "on the cutting edge of expanding accessibility" for disabled passengers.
Uber, which claims coverage of 270 cities in 56 countries via its cab-hailing app, has been valued at as high as $40bn. But the company has faced mounting resistance from politicians and regulators, in a number of countries, over driver remuneration, ride safety and treatment of passengers.