Uber must pay blind woman $ 1.1 million after 14 drivers refused to give her rides with her service dog Bernie
- Lisa Irving of San Francisco says she hasn’t gotten any rides at least 14 times
- Irving, who is blind, uses a guide dog that she says drivers refused to do
- Binding arbitral award awarded her $ 1.1 million for her complaint
- Uber disagrees with the ruling, saying the drivers are independent contractors
Uber has been ordered to pay out $ 1.1 million to a blind woman who says she has not received any rides 14 times from drivers who refused to allow her guide dog in their vehicles.
Lisa Irving, a San Francisco resident, won the award in a binding arbitration award after Uber drivers repeatedly refused her service because of her Golden Retriever service dog named Bernie.
Uber strongly disagrees with the ruling, after the arbitrator rejected the company’s argument that its drivers are independent contractors and that it is not responsible for their behavior.
The case went to arbitration rather than civil court as all Uber users agree to binding arbitration to resolve disputes as part of Uber’s terms of service.
Lisa Irving (left) won a $ 1.1 million binding arbitration award after Uber drivers repeatedly refused her service because of her Golden Retriever service dog named Bernie (right)
“I’m sorry it came to this,” Irving said San Francisco Chronicle about the case. ‘I would have preferred my civil rights to be respected. But it sends a strong message that this is not acceptable and that (entities that discriminate) will be held accountable for their actions until they change. ‘
In arbitration filings, Irving shared how Uber drivers repeatedly left her, ruining a birthday party and causing her to miss a Christmas Eve church service.
The incidents also caused her to miss appointments for her work as a liaison for people with mental health issues, she said.
‘It told me I don’t belong; that I have no right to live my life on my own terms and do the same things that any other individual might decide to do, ”Irving said.
The Americans With Disabilities Act strictly prohibits refusing services to blind persons using guide dogs.
The arbitrator awarded Irving $ 324,000 in damages plus $ 805,313 in legal fees.
In arbitration filings, Irving told how Uber drivers repeatedly left her, ruining a birthday party and making her miss a Christmas Eve church service
Irving (left) is legally blind. The Americans With Disabilities Act strictly prohibits refusing services to blind persons using guide dogs
Uber said it disagreed with the ruling, saying the drivers are not employees.
“We’re proud that Uber’s technology has helped blind people find and get rides,” Uber told The Chronicle.
“Drivers using the Uber app are expected to serve drivers with service animals and adhere to accessibility and other laws, and we regularly educate drivers about that responsibility.”
Uber said it prohibits discrimination and requires its drivers to transport service animals and comply with all accessibility laws.
Irving’s attorney said it didn’t matter whether Uber drivers are gig employees or formal employees of the company.
“The arbitrator said it is irrelevant whether they are independent contractors or employees – Uber is hooked under the ADA,” attorney Cat Cabalo told the Chronicle.
They provide a transportation service to the public. The ADA sets very strict requirements for allowing service dogs to travel with people they assist. ‘