The Court allows the ADA Title III complaint against Uber to go forward despite Uber’s claim that as a virtual service they are not a place of public accommodation. The decision has potential implications for a wide range of online services.
National Federation Of The Blind Of California; Kelly; Hingson; Pedersen
Uber Technologies, Inc. Rasier Technologies Inc; Rasier, LLC; Rasier-CA, LLC
Case No. 14-cv-04086 NC Order Denying Motion to Dismiss.
Last September the National Federation of the Blind California and three individuals filed a complaint in Federal Court against Uber stating that drivers routinely refused to serve riders who travel with service animals. Uber filed to have the case dismissed for lack of standing. stating in part that they are outside the ADA’s jurisdiction because they are not a place of public accommodation. Uber’s argument is that they facilitate rides through technology having no storefront or building where their clients are served and are there for not a “place of public accommodation”. In last week’s ruling for the plaintiffs the district court followed the reasoning of the First Circuit (37 F.3d 12, 13, 1994) where the Court reasoned that “by including ‘travel service’ among the list of services considered ‘public accommodations,’ Congress clearly contemplated that ‘service establishments’ include providers of services which do not require a person to physically enter an actual physical structure.” Circuits have been split on this issue. Larry Paradis, Executive Director of Disability Rights Advocates which represents the plaintiffs stated that this ruling will help to establish that “new technology companies like Uber are subject to the same civil rights laws as other companies that have more traditional business models”
The ultimate decision may impact accessibility of digital only services offered to the public. It would not shift the current obligations of colleges to ensure that their programs and services, including those offered digitally through third party vendors, are accessible. However a decision for the plaintiffs would likely increase the availability of accessible products in the market place.
A news blog on issues in the community of people with disabilities and accessibility.
Derek Mortland, ADA and Community Outreach Coordinator