Uber reached a settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, agreeing to pay millions to customers who were allegedly overcharged due to their disability.
In a news release, the DOJ said Uber has committed to waiving wait time fees for customers who need more time to get into a car due to their disability or refund disabled customers who don’t get a waiver beforehand.
The company will also pay back some 65,000 eligible riders for double the amount they were charged in wait time fees, which the DOJ said could add up to millions of dollars.
Additionally, it will pay more than $1.7 million to more than one thousand customers who have complained about being charged wait fees due to their disability and another $500,000 to others who say they were harmed by the company.
“People with disabilities should not be made to feel like second-class citizens or punished because of their disability, which is exactly what Uber’s wait time fee policy did,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.
“This agreement sends a strong message that Uber and other ridesharing companies will be held accountable if their services discriminate against people with disabilities,” she added.
The department filed a lawsuit against Uber in November 2021 alleging that the company violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against citizens with disabilities.
The lawsuit said that beginning in April 2016, Uber started to charge passengers wait time fees, usually beginning two minutes after a vehicle shows up at the pickup location and until the car starts its trip.
The department said the company failed to modify its policy for disabled passengers despite knowing it was being applied to disabled passengers.
In a statement to The Hill, Uber said it is pleased with the outcome of the DOJ lawsuit.
“It has long been our policy to refund wait time fees for riders with a disability when they alerted us that they were charged, and prior to this matter being filed we made changes so that any rider who shares that they have a disability would have wait time fees waived automatically,” an Uber spokesperson said.
“We are always working to improve accessibility for all users and encourage riders with a disability to utilize our self-declaration form to have wait time fees waived.”
It comes after more than 500 female passengers filed a separate lawsuit against Uber alleging that they were sexually assaulted by company-contracted drivers.
Updated 10:54 p.m.