Disabled riders who have used Uber are getting some justice. The Hill reports that the ride-hailing company has reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice to pay back thousands of disabled riders who were charged extra fees based on how long it took them to get situated in the vehicle.
The settlement is the result of a lawsuit that alleges Uber violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit alleges that in 2016, Uber began charging riders wait-time fees if they took more than two minutes to get into the vehicle after it arrived. This is an obvious problem for disabled passengers, who may need extra time or assistance to stow their belongings and get in a waiting Uber.
The DOJ said that Uber failed to make any changes to its wait-time fees even though the company was aware that disabled passengers were being unfairly charged extra. “People with disabilities should not be made to feel like second-class citizens or punished because of their disability, which is exactly what Uber’s wait-time fee policy did,” DOJ Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement.
As part of the settlement, Uber has to reimburse 65,000 affected passengers for double what they paid in wait-time fees. A second group of roughly 1,000 passengers will split a separate $1.7 million payment from Uber, while an additional $5oo,ooo will be divided up between an undisclosed number of Uber customers who claim they were harmed by the policy.
In a statement to The Hill, an Uber spokesperson claimed that the company always intended to waive wait-time fees for disabled passengers. “It has long been our policy to refund wait-time fees for riders with a disability when they alerted us that they were charged, and prior to this matter being filed we made changes so that any rider who shares that they have a disability would have wait time fees waived automatically,” the statement reads.