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Uber Must Pay Up After Drivers Deny Rides to Blind Woman

Arbitrator awards California's Lisa Irving $1.1M
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2021 1:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – California's Lisa Irving says that Uber drivers denied her rides or verbally abused her 14 times between 2016 and 2018, all because she's blind and has a guide dog, reports CNN. Now, however, Irving has scored a measure of revenge. An arbitrator ordered Uber to pay her $1.1 million—$324,000 in damages, plus $805,000 in legal expenses—over the slights, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The arbitrator ruled that Uber ran afoul of the American With Disabilities Act, rejecting the company's argument that it should not be held responsible for drivers' actions because they are contractors and not employees. Company rules forbid drivers from refusing rides to people with service animals, but Irving documented more than a dozen cases when drivers left her stranded.

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“I’m sorry it came to this,” she tells the Chronicle. “I would have preferred that my civil rights be respected. But it sends a strong message that this is not acceptable and (entities that discriminate) will be held accountable for their actions until they change.” She says the drivers' actions led to her being late for work, which contributed to her firing, and caused missed medical appointments and social engagements. The arbitrator highlighted another incident: "[The driver] yelled at her to get out of his car at least fifteen times, at one point pulling over to demand she get out in a dangerous area, making her feel helpless by his intimidation and threats," per the ruling. (Sometimes, it's the drivers on the receiving end of abuse.)

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