FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2021
IN IMPORTANT OPINION FOR DISABILITY ACCESS AND INCLUSION, FEDERAL JUDGE RULES THAT UBER IS SUBJECT TO ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson rules that the Equal Rights Center’s case can proceed and that Uber is subject to the ADA and DC Human Rights Act
Washington, D.C., — March 17, 2021 — On Monday, March 15th, United States District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson denied Uber’s motion to dismiss in the case Equal Rights Center v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al. The ruling clarifies that Uber’s ride-sharing application is covered by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the DC Human Rights Act (DCHRA). Judge Jackson also found that the Equal Rights Center (ERC) has associational standing to bring the complaint’s ADA and DCHRA discrimination claims on behalf of its members.
The ERC filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc in 2017, alleging that Uber systematically discriminates against disabled individuals in the District of Columbia who use non-foldable wheelchairs. The lawsuit was based in part on a civil rights testing investigation that revealed higher fares and longer wait time for wheelchair users.
Judge Jackson’s opinion methodically rejects Uber’s attempts to evade its obligations under federal and state non-discrimination laws stating that “Uber has fallen short of establishing that neither the ADA or DCHRA applies to its services categorically and as a matter of law”. She goes on to state “this Court easily finds it plausible that Uber’s alleged failure to address policies that may contribute to the purported dearth of wheelchair accessible vehicles in its fleet…qualifies as conduct that discriminates against persons with disabilities.”
Disability rights advocates have long argued that rideshare services are covered under civil rights laws like the ADA and DCHRA. ERC Executive Director Kate Scott comments “We believe Monday’s decision will open doors for wheelchair users and ultimately allow them to finally experience the freedom of on-demand ride services that others enjoy. As a result, we remain hopeful that Uber will take decisive action to address the discrimination our complaint alleges.”
ERC member Heidi Case states “This case is so important because having equal access to on-demand transportation options is a major quality of life issue for me and other wheelchair users in the D.C. region.”
The ERC is represented in its lawsuit by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLC) and Relman Colfax PLLC. WLC Executive Director Jonathan Smith notes “Judge Jackson’s opinion is an important advance for disability access and inclusion and vindicates our efforts to require Uber to provide transportation services that can be fully and equally enjoyed by people who use wheelchairs.”
The ERC encourages anyone, including its members, who have experienced discrimination while using rideshare services like Uber to report their experiences to the ERC by calling 202-234-3062 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equal Rights Center
Gregg A. Kelley
Director of Development and Communications
Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
ABOUT THE EQUAL RIGHTS CENTER: The ERC is a civil rights organization that identifies and seeks to eliminate unlawful and unfair discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations in its home community of Greater Washington DC and nationwide. The ERC’s core strategy for identifying unlawful and unfair discrimination is civil rights testing. When the ERC identifies discrimination, it seeks to eliminate it through the use of testing data to educate the public and business community, support policy advocacy, conduct compliance testing and training, and, if necessary, take enforcement action. For more information, please visit www.equalrightscenter.org.
ABOUT RELMAN COLFAX PLLC: Relman Colfax PLLC is a national civil rights law firm dedicated to protecting civil rights and enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws. Based in Washington, D.C., the Relman firm is responsible for significant legal decisions in civil rights cases, including those in Independent Living Center of Southern California v. City of Los Angeles (accessibility of municipal affordable housing program); National Fair Housing Alliance v. Spanos (ensuring accessibility in housing design and construction); United States ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center v. Westchester County (housing desegregation); Kennedy v. City of Zanesville (access to public services); and Baltimore v. Wells Fargo and Memphis v. Wells Fargo (discriminatory lending). More information about the firm’s cases is available at www.relmanlaw.com.
ABOUT THE WASHINGTON LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE: The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs was established in 1968 to provide pro bono legal services to address issues of discrimination and entrenched poverty. Since then, it has successfully handled thousands of civil rights cases on behalf of individuals and groups in the areas of fair housing, equal employment opportunity, public accommodations, immigrant rights, disability rights, public education, and prisoners’ rights. For more information, please visit www.washlaw.org.