Though Uber has tried to break free from taking responsibility for their drivers, one passenger found a way to sue the technology conglomerate for $1.1 million in an arbitration case. The blind passenger and her guide dog were turned away more than 12 times in the San Francisco area.
Lisa Irving, a California native, was not only denied rides, but also harassed by different Uber drivers in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the rideshare drivers she did have were verbally abusive, and left her abandoned and stranded fearing for her safety. As a company that prides their services on the well-being of passengers and commitment to “make it easier for everyone to get around.” The treatment Irving faced was contradictory.
The underlying questions remain: can Uber drivers accept and deny trips? If so, can they be penalized?
Yes, rideshare drivers can deny rides toward passengers and cancel requests, as they are using their personal vehicles for the job. For example, a driver might opt out of picking up drunk passengers in case they fall ill or need additional care. However, they cannot discriminate based on gender, race, sexual orientation, disability or accompanying service animal.
In any case like Irving’s, Uber or Lyft riders have the right to sue the driver and company for racist and discriminatory behavior. Even more so if you were provided with service, and the driver acted recklessly. A personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, would help you build the foundation of your case – including data on similar complaints like your treatment.
Similarly, two years prior, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) acted against Uber for denying service toward riders with service animals in San Jose. In 2016, the same year Irving was denied rides, NFB reached a settlement with Uber. Their class action settlement stated Uber must ensure discriminatory drivers were fired.
The previous settlement was active for 3 ½ years under conditions that were subject to change based on Uber’s actions. In it, the ride-hailing business was required to record and report on data regarding denied services for passengers with guide animals. The numbers released last year uncovered nearly 21,000 complaints were issued against Uber for unfair treatment of blind riders, according to NBC News.
The Results of Irving’s Case
Uber tried to deny taking responsibility for the behaviors of their independent contractors.
However, the judge, Rudolph Gerber thought otherwise. According to MarketWatch, he found their classification of workers “relevant as corroboration,” and ruled Uber was “responsible for conduct that violates the ADA on independent federal grounds.”
The lawsuit against Uber for damages caused was not part of the class action her lawyer was initially pursuing; though Irving was able to recover from ADA and the Unruh Act. The Unruh Act would compensate her starting at $4,000 per violation but it can increase based on the circumstances. With the help of an experienced lawyer, her case turned into one of the biggest lawsuits Uber lost since their launch in 2009.
Irving is set to be awarded damages from the incidents in 2016 and 2017, totaling $324,000 and $805,313.45 in legal fees. Her rideshare lawyer made sure she secured maximum compensation for the emotional toll she must have endured, while advocating on her behalf in San Francisco Superior Court.