Uber has reportedly been ordered to pay $1.1 million in damages to a blind passenger after an independent arbitrator ruled that the company’s drivers discriminated against her after refusing her rides on 14 separate occasions. 

 

Lisa Irving from San Francisco brought the claim against the ride-hailing giant in 2018 after “she was either denied a ride altogether or harassed by Uber drivers not wanting to transport her with her guide dog,” which she relies on. Irving alleged that drivers left her stranded at night and caused her to be late to work, which may have contributed to her being fired. Her lawyers alleged that their client suffered verbal abuse and intimidation, which did not stop after she brought her complaints to Uber.

 

Per Uber Help, service animals are permitted to accompany riders at all times. If the animal is a pet and not a service animal, then drivers may choose whether or not to allow the pet in their vehicle.

 

As reported by Fox 2 Detroit, one of Irving’s attorneys reportedly told the BBC in a statement: “Of all Americans who should be liberated by the rideshare revolution, the blind and visually impaired are among those who stand to benefit the most. However, the track record of major rideshare services has been spotty at best and openly discriminatory at worst.”

 

She further added, “The bottom line is that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a guide dog should be able to go anywhere that a blind person can go.” Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Therefore, the ADA prohibits businesses from denying transportation of a person with a guide dog.

 

However, Uber rejected Irving’s claims, insisting that its drivers are “expected to serve riders with service animals and comply with accessibility,” but the arbitrator found that was not the case. In fact, the investigation suggested that drivers were coached in ways to deny rides that would circumvent the ADA.

 

The arbitrator ruled that Uber was liable for violations of the ADA because of its “contractual supervision over its drivers and for its failure to prevent discrimination by properly training its drivers.” The arbitrator reportedly awarded Irving $324,000 in damages, with the rest ($805,313) going to legal costs, including attorney fees.

 

And yet, Uber, still, strongly disagreed with the ruling. The company reportedly said that its team looked into each complaint and took appropriate action.

 

Moreover, this isn’t the first time Uber has been sued for this exact issue. In 2014, Uber was reportedly sued for discriminating against blind people and their guide dogs, and agreed to change that as part of a $2.6 million settlement two years later. Irving’s 14 denied trips happened after Uber finalized its 2016 settlement.

 

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Neama Rahmani is the President and co-founder of West Coast Trial Lawyers.

Neama graduated from UCLA at the age of 19 and Harvard Law School at the age of 22, making him one of the youngest graduates in the 200-year history of the…

Neama Rahmani is the President and co-founder of West Coast Trial Lawyers.

Neama graduated from UCLA at the age of 19 and Harvard Law School at the age of 22, making him one of the youngest graduates in the 200-year history of the law school. Upon graduation, Neama was hired by O’Melveny & Myers, the largest law firm in Los Angeles, where he represented companies such as Disney, Marriott, and the Roman Catholic Church.

But Neama wanted to help ordinary people, not corporations, so he joined the United States Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted drug and human trafficking cases along the United States-Mexico border. While working as a federal prosecutor, Neama captured and successfully prosecuted a fugitive murderer and drug kingpin who had terrorized Southern California and was featured on “America’s Most Wanted.” Neama was then appointed to be the Director of Enforcement of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, an independent watchdog that oversees and investigates the elected officials and highest level employees of the City of Los Angeles, including the Mayor and City Council. He held that position until becoming a trial lawyer for the people.

Neama has extensive trial experience. He has led teams of more than 170 attorneys in litigation against the largest companies in the world. Neama has successfully tried dozens of cases to verdict as lead trial counsel, and has argued before both state and federal appeals courts. Over the course of his career, Neama has handled thousands of cases as attorney of record and has helped his clients obtain more than $1 billion in settlements and judgments.