Inferior access to passengers who use wheelchairs (New York City)

A July 2017 complaint, filed by the nonprofit legal group Disability Rights Advocates in New York, criticized Uber’s failure to include wheelchair-accessible vehicles in its standard UberX fleet, claiming that 99.9% of Uber’s vehicles were inaccessible to people with mobility disabilities, in violation of New York’s anti-discrimination laws.

The lawsuit alleged that Uber riders who need wheelchair-accessible vehicles face significantly longer wait times than other passengers, and that at some periods and in some places, no wheelchair-accessible vehicles are available at all.

The lawsuit further alleged that passengers attempting to use Uber’s accessible service face extended wait times, or are denied access to
the service altogether, which the plaintiffs said reveals that the accessible service was “window-dressing designed to avoid government regulation and legal requirements” and insufficient under law.

Inferior access to passengers who use wheelchairs (Washington DC)

A June 2017 complaint, filed by the Equal Rights Center in federal court in Washington DC, criticized Uber’s failure to include wheelchair-accessible vehicles in its standard UberX fleet, alleging that this violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The complaint criticized Uber Access, Uber’s wheelchair-capable service, as limited to a subset of markets as well as offering inferior service with approximately double the wait time and approximately double the fare.  The complaint alleged that not one vehicle in Uber’s 30,000-vehicle fleet in Washington DC is capable of transporting a passenger who uses a non-folding wheelchair.

litigation docket

Uber driver killed girl in crosswalk

On December 31, 2013, an Uber driver killed six-year-old Sophia Liu, who was walking in a crosswalk with her mother and brother.  At the time, the driver was between rides (with the Uber app open, hoping for a new request) but not actively serving a Uber passenger.  As a result, Uber denied that it was responsible or had to pay. Uber offered automatic insurance to all drivers, but the insurance offered no coverage in this circumstance.

In response to a lawsuit brought by Sophia’s family, Uber argued that it is merely a “technology company,” that it “did not cause this tragic accident.”

Without admitting that it was obliged to provide payment in this circumstance, Uber ultimately reached a confidential settlement with Sophia’s family.

Ang Jiang Liu Et Al v. Uber Technologies, Inc. Et Al. Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, Case No. CGC 14 536979.  Docket.

Driver violence towards passengers

Various Uber drivers have attacked passengers. Representative examples: In March 2014, a Chicago passenger sued Uber after her driver locked the car and groped her. In June 2014, a Los Angeles driver kidnapped a woman who had passed out in his car.

In an internal crisis communication message that was accidentally made public, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick blamed the media for suggesting that Uber was liable for driver misconduct.

Tracked users when app runs in the background

A May 2015 change in Uber’s privacy policy allows the company to access users’ locations even when the app is running in the background.  Uber described this as “get[ting] people on their way more quickly.”  But it also sharply increased the private information sent to Uber.

Details in a 2015 complaint from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, submitted to the FTC.  Recode in June 2017 reported the FTC opening an inquiry.

Multiple drivers rejected blind passengers with service dogs

Multiple blind passengers reported Uber drivers refusing to transport them and their service dogs.

A key lawsuit challenging Uber’s treatment of blind passengers was National Federation of the Blind of California, et a., v. Uber Technologies, Inc.: Second Amended Complaint. Decision denying Uber’s motion to dismiss (including finding that Uber may be liable under the public accommodation provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act). Settlement agreement. Other case documents.