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Disability Rights Advocates Sue Lyft

Published on Nov 6, 2020 at 8:22 am in Rideshare Lawsuits.

On November 3, 3030, a federal judge ruled that disability rights organizations have the right to sue Lyft for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The lawsuit, which was filed in March, was originally initiated by the Independent Living Resource Center. The center is a California non-profit disability rights organization. A few other organizations and disabled individuals filed as well.

The plaintiffs allege that Lyft violated the ADA’s nondiscrimination requirements when they offered wheelchair-accessible vehicle services that were more restrictive than their non-wheelchair-accessible vehicle services. The restrictions involved longer wait times and less than 24-hour a day operation. The lawsuit is also claiming Lyft failed to offer wheelchair-accessible vehicle services in certain Bay Area counties.

As evidence, the organizations involved section 12184 of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination based on disability from “full and equal enjoyment of public transportation services,” including those offered by a “private entity that is primarily engaged in the business of transporting people.” Under section 12184, discrimination includes “a failure to make reasonable modifications in policies […] when such modifications are necessary to afford such goods, services, facilities […] to individuals with disabilities.”

To improve ADA compliance, the organizations proposed four possible modifications:

  • Use incentives and marketing to recruit independent contractor drivers to provide wheelchair-accessible vehicle services
  • Provide lease or rental options to wheelchair-accessible vehicle drivers
  • Partner with third-party providers of wheelchair-accessible vehicle services
  • Use a combination of any of the three propositions

In response, Lyft challenged the organizations;’ standing to pursue legal action against them—which was granted by the federal judge. According to the court, the inability to access wheelchair-accessible vehicle services equivalent to other customers’ services was a direct injury to the organizations.

The court, however, did not agree that all the potential modifications were reasonable. While it was deemed appropriate to have Lyft provide lease or rental options, the use of incentives and partnering with third-parties was considered unreasonable.

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