Uber ordered to pay $1.1 million to blind passenger who was denied rides 14 separate times

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An independent arbitrator on Thursday ordered Uber to pay $1.1 million to a blind passenger for illegally discriminating against her after its drivers refused her rides on 14 occasions.

The arbitrator also rejected Uber’s argument that it wasn’t liable for discrimination by its drivers because they’re contractors.

Uber said it strongly disagreed with the ruling.

Lisa Irving, a San Francisco Bay Area resident who is blind and relies on her guide dog, Bernie, to help her get around, brought the claim against Uber in 2018 after “she was either denied a ride altogether or harassed by Uber drivers not wanting to transport her with her guide dog,” the arbitrator’s ruling said.

Uber drivers left Irving stranded late at night, caused her to be late to work (which eventually contributed to her being fired), and on two occasions, verbally abused and intimidated her — and that discrimination didn’t stop even after she complained to Uber, her lawyers told Insider in a statement.

“Of all Americans who should be liberated by the rideshare revolution, the blind and visually impaired are among those who stand to benefit the most. However, the track record of major rideshare services has been spotty at best and openly discriminatory at worst,” Catherine Cabalo, one of Irving’s attorneys, said in the statement.

“The bottom line is that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a guide dog should be able to go anywhere that a blind person can go,” Cabalo added.

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