On Monday, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the District of Columbia District Court issued an opinion denying Uber Technologies Inc.’s motion to dismiss a discrimination lawsuit brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (DCHRA).
According to the opinion, “plaintiff Equal Rights Center (‘ERC’) allege(d) that defendant Uber – a company that maintains a ride-sharing application that connects users to drivers – systemically discriminates against those disabled individuals in the District of Columbia who use non-foldable wheelchairs, because Uber’s wheelchair accessible ride-share services are allegedly far less reliable and predictable than its non-wheelchair accessible offerings.” Additionally, ERC also claimed that “Uber requires wheelchair users to pay higher fares and endure longer wait times than people who use Uber’s standard transportation service.”
The court noted that the plaintiff argued that Uber qualifies as a transportation service under local and federal law, so therefore, these alleged disparities constitute discrimination under Title III of the ADA and violate the DCHRA.
Previously, Uber sought to dismiss the ERC’s claims arguing that the ERC lacks standing to sue either on its own behalf or on its members’ behalf. Uber also contended that the plaintiff failed to plausibly allege that “the ADA and DCHRA apply to its app, and that even if those statutes do apply, Uber’s services do not constitute discrimination and cannot be reasonably modified.” Additionally, Uber claimed that the DCHRA claim is barred by its one-year statutory limitations period.
Considering Uber’s motion to dismiss, the court found that the plaintiff “has associational standing to bring the complaint’s ADA and DCHRA claims on behalf of its members.” The court added that the complaint plausibly alleged Uber’s eligibility for regulation under Title III of the ADA and the DCHRA. According to the court, the ERC also claimed “circumstances that plausibly sustain discrimination claims under the cited statutes” and the plaintiff’s DCHRA claim was timely. As a result, the court denied Uber’s motion to dismiss.
Uber is represented by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. The Equal Rights Center is represented by Relman Colfax PLLC and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.