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Uber faced some legal troubles last year. The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Uber in late 2016 accusing the rideshare company of discriminating against passengers with disabilities by charging them if they took too long to get into their cars. Because of the way Uber handled the situation in 2016, this all transpired. Because Uber introduced a new policy in 2016, this is all connected to the problem. Drivers could charge users for waiting longer than two minutes, and before the policy, drivers were not permitted to charge passengers until they began driving. Again, this appeared to be a win for drivers. Drivers, who had to wait for free for their travel, were probably not thrilled. However, users were unhappy with the rule, especially people who needed more time for loading wheelchairs or people who were blind or had limited mobility.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was violated, according to the DOJ, when Uber drivers refused to provide reduced fares to physical disability passengers. Last week, Uber agreed to pay up. In a settlement with the DOJ, Uber agreed to pay double the amount of wait time fees to around 65,000 disabled writers whom it has identified in addition to committing two million dollars in funds for other affected users. Uber confirmed that it was “pleased to have reached this agreement” and that “Uber is always seeking to improve accessibility for all users”. As the Verge reports, the company is still vulnerable to being sued for disability claims. While this settlement protects Uber from future claims concerning its wait times, as the Verge notes it is still not immune to being sued for disability claims.

According to The Verge, the app has been unable to meet ADA mandates because it has been unable to offer wheelchair accessible vehicles to users who need them. This is the same issue that led to Lyft getting into trouble a few years ago. In 2020, Lyft was fined $40,000 by the Department of Justice after it denied rides to wheelchair users. However, many users claim this doesn’t happen in practice. Drivers must accept foldable wheelchairs, but many users say this doesn’t happen in reality. Amongst other cities, there are wheelchair accessible vehicles available on Lyft. According to CNN, however, it is difficult to get a ride on one of these vehicles.

Both Uber and Lyft have had to reckon with policies that likely aren’t as inclusive as company executives might think.

Disability advocates won’t change. But it seems like for now, when it comes to Uber and Lyft, change is adding up to millions of dollars in penalties.

What do you think of the Uber and Lyft disability discrimination? Let us know down in the comments.