Uber was sued over lack of wheelchair-accessible cars in New York City
Uber Technologies Inc was sued on Tuesday by disability rights groups that said the ride-sharing company violates New York City human rights laws by failing to make enough of its vehicles accessible to disabled people.
The proposed class-action complaint accused Uber of “pervasive and ongoing discrimination” because people in wheelchairs can use only a few dozen of its more than 58,000 vehicles in the city.
Given Uber’s growing popularity, this “substantially undermines” the benefits of New York City’s prior commitment to make half of its yellow taxis wheelchair-accessible by 2020, the complaint said.
“Riders either face very long wait times or can’t get rides at all,” Rebecca Serbin, a staff attorney for Disability Rights Advocates, said in an interview. “The human rights law reflects the City Council’s commitment to accessibility. Uber is flagrantly violating that law.”
Uber had no immediate comment, having yet to review the complaint filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.
According to the complaint, Uber offers wheelchair-accessible rides through its UberWAV service, but fewer than 100 vehicles in its city fleet provide it.
The case follows lawsuits in Chicago and Washington accusing Uber of violating other laws protecting the disabled.
It adds to problems affecting the San Francisco-based company, which has been beset by complaints about its workplace culture, a federal inquiry into software to help drivers avoid police, and an intellectual property lawsuit by Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc.
Tuesday’s lawsuit was brought by the Brooklyn Center for Independence for the Disabled (BCID), Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, and the Taxis for All Campaign.
Two other plaintiffs are Gabriela Amari of Brooklyn and Valerie Joseph of Queens Village in the city’s Queens borough, who use wheelchairs and say they want to use Uber vehicles but cannot. Both work for BCID. Neither was immediately available for comment.
The complaint seeks to require Uber to implement a plan “to ensure full and equal access to its services for riders who require accessible transportation.”
The case is Brooklyn Center for Independence for the Disabled et al v. Uber Technologies Inc et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County.