Uber Forced To Pay Advocacy Group $2.38 Million For Not Picking Up Blind People

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A judge ruled that Uber must pay the U.S. National Federation for the Blind (NFB) and its affiliates $2.38 million after the advocacy group sued the company in 2014 for frequently declining to pick up riders with service animals.

The NFB claimed that there were more than 30 incidences (that it knows of) where blind individuals were refused service because they used guide dogs, even specifically naming a number of people, reports Ars Technica. The plaintiffs argue that this violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“UberX drivers across the United States are likewise refusing to transport blind individuals, including identified UberX drivers who repeatedly denied rides to one blind woman on twelve separate occasions, charged blind riders cancellation fees, and abandoned blind travelers in extreme weather, all because of guide dogs,” the original legal complaint reads.

The drivers are accused of rejecting the blind individuals even “after they initially agreed to transport the riders.” (RELATED: Judge Denying Uber’s $100 Million Law Suit Settlement Exemplifies Struggle With Drivers)

The settlement was announced in April, but lawyers for both sides were still deciding on the proper appraisal for the legal fees, according to Ars Technica.

Lawyers for the NFB asked for more than $6 million in litigation fees on issues like whether a unique transportation service like Uber is “subject to the public accommodations provisions of the ” ADA.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael M. Cousins ultimately ordered Uber to pay $2.38 million because the court found “that plaintiffs’ sought to enhance Uber’s policies to protect blind riders, which can provide a model for other businesses in the sharing economy.”

Uber reportedly disagreed with the financial assessment.

Nevertheless, Uber seems willing to accommodate the blind and whatever animals they may have as assistance. (RELATED: New Massachusetts Tax Takes Money From Uber To Fund Failing Taxi Companies)

“As part of this settlement, we have agreed to take steps to make clear to drivers using Uber that they are obligated to transport to any passenger with a service animal,” an official blog post from Uber reads.

“If the settlement is approved, drivers will see a pop-up in the Uber app reminding them of this obligation.”

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Eric Lieberman