DENVER (KDVR) — Melisa Licon was born with a visual impairment, she has low vision but is legally blind. The number of times she’s been denied rides by Uber drivers, she said, is frequent. So, she began recording the incidents.
Licon has the utmost faith in her service animal, Sugar.
“She knows exactly what she’s doing,” Licon said.
Sugar is trained on what to do to help Licon live her life, but she’s also trained on what not to do.
“She does not sit on seats when she gets into cars, she does not relieve herself in public unless I give her a command to,” Licon said.
The two are always together and have been since guide dog school.
“We graduated about six years ago together, and we’ve been together ever since,” Licon said.
When Licon orders an Uber, she usually gets a ride. But on one ride back in May, she was denied service by a driver who argued she may only order a ride through “Uber Pet.”
“Which is incorrect, Uber Pet is set up for riders to bring their pets. However, my service dog is a service dog, therefore I’m allowed to bring her anywhere that has public access,” Licon said.
Another driver saw her with her guide dog and just drove off.
“A friend of mine is in the background saying ‘Did he just drive off?’ Because it’s so hard to believe, and I laugh because that’s just kind of how I dealt with the situation,” Licon said.
For their part Uber issued this statement:
“Discrimination has no place on the Uber platform or anywhere, and Melisa’s experience is unacceptable. We have a specialized team that investigates these types of cases and have taken appropriate action.”
Licon said she’s only asking for empathy from these drivers.
“You’re a person, I’m a person, I’m a person with a disability. I feel like if it was their mom or their sister or their brother or their child who was in the situation, they would want somebody to be kind to them,” Licon said.
Another incident involved an Uber driver blaming Melisa and her dog for making a mess in the car.
“It turns out that the driver had charged an enormous cleaning fee for his car,” Licon said.
That cost her about $150, a fee recently refunded by Uber.
“I know for a fact that she would not ruin the upholstery, relieve herself, climb up on the seats or anything like that,” Licon said.
Uber adds that they suspended a driver’s access to the app when incidents like this occur.
No word on whether the drivers caught on camera in these incidents had their access suspended.