A lawsuit, filed today in California’s Northern District, alleges that Uber denied service to a Texas woman with cerebral palsy “on approximately 25 separate occasions” in 2016 and 2017.
The source of the cancelled rides appears to be Goodee, a service dog the plaintiff, D’edra Steele, has had since 2009 to assist with mobility and balance. The suit recounts a number of interactions, ranging from drivers claiming a dog allergy, claiming they refuse to transport dogs, or to speeding off once they noticed the animal. In all cases, Steele says Goodee was wearing a “Service Dog” vest.
Uber’s website notes:
State and federal law prohibit driver-partners using the Uber Driver App from denying service to riders with service animals because of the service animals, and from otherwise discriminating against riders with service animals. As explained in Uber’s Non-Discrimination Policy, driver-partners who engage in discriminatory conduct in violation of this legal obligation will lose their ability to use the Driver App.
In two occasions detailed in the suit, drivers refused service to Steele due to concerns about the cleanliness of their cars. “Sorry, it’s a brand new car,” one driver allegedly texted Steele. Another is alleged to have told Steele verbally, “No way, I don’t have a blanket for my seats.”
Cleanliness is something Uber takes into account when assessing the eligibility of a driver’s vehicle, and, according to driver forum posts, Uber nags drivers whose cars they believe aren’t up to snuff. The company’s help site even has its own page for riders to complain if a “vehicle was in poor condition.”
In this sense, the drivers themselves are between a rock and a hard place, and Steele’s suit notes that Uber corporate were not especially helpful in resolving her ongoing denial-of-service issues.
You can read the full complaint below.