An Uber driver in Greeley, Colorado canceled a requested Uber ride after learning the passenger had a service dog with him. This is against Uber policy, which contractually obligates drivers to accept riders with service animals.
Will Etherton, who is visually impaired, requests Uber rides to drive him to and from work when his wife isn’t around. In early March 2020, Etherton, his son, and his service dog Java ordered an Uber; however, the ride was denied when the driver showed up.
According to Etherton, the driver denied the ride because of the dog. The driver said, “Well, I’ll go ahead and cancel it for you, so you don’t get charged. I hope it’s not a problem. […] I bet if you call someone else, they won’t have as nice a car as me and I bet they’ll give you a ride.”
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Etherton has experienced this type of discrimination from Uber drivers. Other Uber users in Colorado with blindness, including Carolyn Hass and Mollie Baland, spoke with KMGH about experiencing similar situations.
Under Uber’s Service Animal Policy, state and federal law prohibits drivers from denying service to riders with service animals. If a driver is found guilty of violating their legal obligation, they will lose their ability to work for the company. The policy states a service animal is one that’s trained to work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Uber drivers are only allowed to ask passengers two questions to confirm that an animal is a service animal: 1) Is the animal required because of a disability? 2) What work or task has the animal been trained to perform? Riders are not required to present documentation or tags proving service animal status.
In response to the incident, an Uber spokesperson had this to say to the news station: “Discrimination has no place on the Uber app or anywhere. Drivers who use the Uber app agree to accommodate the riders with service animals and comply with all accessibility laws.” At this time, Etherton, who reached out to the company, has yet to receive a response. He plans to continue to contact Uber.
If you’ve been discriminated against by an Uber driver and have suffered as a result, it’s important to understand your options when it comes to holding that driver accountable. While filing an official report with Uber is a good first step, you won’t always get the results you want without taking additional actions. To learn more about ensuring justice, get help from the Rideshare Law Group.