The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing the car-hailing company Uber of discriminating against people with disabilities by charging a "wait time fee" for needing extra time to enter the vehicle.
According to the federal prosecutors, Uber begins adding additional charges two minutes after the car arrives at the requested pickup location, with those extra charges ending once the trip actually begins.
The lawsuit argues that this policy specifically harms elderly people and those with disabilities who may need extra time in order to enter a vehicle.
The Justice Department's lawsuit accuses Uber of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by "failing to reasonably modify its wait time fee policy for passengers who, because of disability, need more than two minutes to get in an Uber car."
"Uber’s wait time fees take a significant toll on people with disabilities," said acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds in a statement. "Passengers with disabilities who need additional boarding time are entitled to access ridesharing services without discrimination. This lawsuit seeks to assist people with disabilities to live their lives with independence and dignity, as the ADA guarantees.”
Article III of the ADA, specifically prohibits private transportation companies, such as Uber, from engaging in discriminatory practices towards an individual with a disability.
In a statement to Axios, Uber denied any wrongdoing and says it has adjusted its wait time fees to comply with federal law.
"We recognize that many riders with disabilities depend on Uber for their transportation needs, which is why we had been in active discussions with the DOJ about how to address any concerns or confusion before this surprising and disappointing lawsuit," the company wrote.
"We fundamentally disagree that our policies violate the ADA and will keep improving our products to support everyone’s ability to easily move around their communities."