Disability advocates weigh in on Uber lawsuit over wait fees


DENVER (KDVR) — Legal experts say the federal government’s lawsuit against Uber for charging wait fees to disabled passengers represents an issue with all types of private and public transportation.

The lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice claims Uber discriminates against disabled people who need extra time to load necessary equipment. It alleges the Uber violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Injured U.S. Army veteran Jeffrey Brunnelson recently contacted the FOX31 Problem Solvers after he was charged a wait fee for the time it took to load his equipment after visiting an Aurora grocery store.

“Why are you going to charge me for being disabled, when I can’t help it any more than someone being born a minority?” Brunnelson said.

“It’s like saying you’ll be charged an extra quarter because you’re Black,” he said.

When questioned about disability provisions in the past, Uber has said that strict policies are in place to protect and assist the disabled and that drivers receive special training on how to help disabled passengers so everyone can be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. Drivers are not allowed to refuse rides to those with physical challenges.

Disability protection laws ‘broken very often’

The Problem Solvers reached out to disability law expert David Monroe, legal services director for the Disability Law Colorado organization, which is charged by Congress to guard against discrimination.

Monroe said there is no excuse for any business or public transportation provider to disregard established laws under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but “they are broken and they’re broken very often.”

“There’s plenty of federal law that indicates that it is the responsibility of businesses and service providers to give those accommodations,” Monroe said.

The organization Ability Connection Colorado pushes for change, provides support for parents and disabled children and works to provide a voice for those who face challenges.

Executive Director Judith Ham told FOX31 that making sure avenues are open to all involves a collective concern in the community.

“Together, we can find the solution,” Ham said. The organization’s mission is to develop and continue groundwork that can help society move forward.

“We don’t always have to agree, but if we agree that we’ll do the best for all concerned, we can solve the problem,” Ham said.

Ability Connection Colorado relies on donations to support programs for families. For more information, visit their website.

If you are in need of legal assistance, visit the Disability Law Colorado organization.

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