Uber was held liable for its drivers having denied a blind passenger a ride in 14 separate attempts. A private arbitrator ordered Uber to pay $1.1 million to the blind passenger accompanied by her guide dog who tried to take a ride through the Uber app. The arbitrator rejected Uber’s claim that it was not responsible for its drivers’ illegal conduct because the drivers are independent contractors and not employees. However, the arbitrator argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require an employment status to hold companies liable for third-party wrongdoings.
Complaints about discrimination against people with disabilities have been around for several years. The National Federation of the Blind filed a class action against Uber, in San Francisco, alleging that blind riders were regularly denied a ride when they were accompanied by service animals. The case was settled in 2016. The settlement required Uber to collect data on service animal denials. The company reported in 2020 that it had received since 2017 over 21 thousand complaints of service animal-related discrimination.