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Uber’s policy of charging a “wait time” fee if a customer takes more than two minutes to board the vehicle discriminates against people with disabilities, according to a complaint filed against the company by the ministry American Justice.

The additional charge was introduced in April 2016, the department said, eventually expanding nationwide. The policy is alleged to violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it ignores those who may be less able to get to a car in the allotted time.

The trial, filed in the Northern District of California, seeks to force Uber to introduce measures to prevent discrimination, change its wait time policy and train its staff and drivers in ADA.

Prosecutors are also seeking damages for those affected, as well as a civil penalty. The court record details two cases, including that of a 52-year-old woman with a spinal injury who was repeatedly billed wait time fees. Uber later told her that she could not be reimbursed because the charges were “automatic,” according to the filing.

“This lawsuit aims to bring Uber into compliance with the mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act while sending a powerful message that Uber cannot penalize passengers with disabilities just because they need more time to get on a car. car, ”Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said. , of the Civil Rights Division of the Ministry of Justice.

“Uber and other companies that provide transportation services need to ensure equal access to all people, including people with disabilities. “

In a statement, Uber said it made a change to its app last week that automatically waives fees for passengers who claim to be disabled.

“A wait time fee is charged to all passengers to compensate drivers after a two-minute wait,” said a spokesperson, “but was never intended for passengers who are ready to go to their location. designated pickup but need more time to get into the car.

“We recognize that many disabled passengers depend on Uber for their transportation needs, which is why we have been in active discussions with the Department of Justice on how to resolve any concerns or confusion ahead of this surprising and disappointing trial. “

The company said it “fundamentally” disagreed with the Justice Department’s assessment that it was in violation of the ADA.

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Coy Lewallen

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