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Uber settles lawsuit claiming it overcharged disabled passengers with $2.2 million fine

Uber has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged the ride-hailing service discriminated against customers with disabilities. The one-time penalty may have forced the company to reevaluate its policies pertaining to disabled people and take a kinder approach. However, some critics claim the settlement indemnifies Uber against future claims linked to waiting fees.

Uber’s “waiting charges”, also known as “wait time fees”, were, almost always, higher for its disabled passengers. The charges were slapped on such passengers even when they usually require more time to enter and exit a vehicle.

From the $2.2 million fine, nearly $1.74 million is meant for over 1,000 riders who complained about the fees and $500,000 for “other harmed individuals.” Uber will also offer credits to more than 65,000 people who've obtained waivers for wait time fees. All the affected users will receive double the wait time fees they were charged.

Federal prosecutors filed a lawsuit against Uber in November. The complaint claimed Uber violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by adding a fee specifically for the disabled. Prosecutors argued that the ride-hailing company should not charge a customer just because they take a few extra minutes to enter a vehicle.

Uber introduced “Wait Time Fees” back in 2016. The charges are essentially a penalty for passengers who made the driver wait for them at a pickup location. While this may seem like a deterrent for people who keep drivers waiting, the timer for penalty started merely two minutes after the drivers arrived at the pickup location.

Needless to mention, such a penalty was particularly hurting people with disabilities who, almost always, need a little more time to climb into a vehicle. This short delay invariably discriminated against persons who are disabled, alleged the Justice Department. Specifically speaking, Uber violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which bars discrimination by transportation companies, claimed the prosecutors.

Via: Engadget

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