Uber is settling a Justice Department lawsuit accusing the company of overcharging riders with disabilities. The ridesharing company has agreed to pay at least $2.2 million to passengers who were charged wait time fees despite disabilities that required more time to enter a vehicle. The payout includes nearly $1.74 million for over 1,000 riders who complained about the fees and $500,000 for “other harmed individuals.” Uber will also offer credits to more than 65,000 people who've obtained waivers for wait time fees, all of whom will receive double the wait time fees they were charged.
Uber implemented wait time fees in 2016, when it began charging customers extra if a driver waited more than two minutes after arriving at a pickup location. This left people with disabilities paying more than other passengers. The Justice Department alleged that this violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which bars discrimination by transportation companies.
In a statement to Engadget, Uber said it was "pleased" by the agreement and maintained that it was "always working" to bolster accessibility for users. It encouraged customers to sign up for the waivers.
The agreement requires that Uber continue offering the waiver to all eligible riders for two years. Refunds will also be "easily available" to riders who don't have waivers, the Justice Department added. Uber has promised to advertise the waiver system, which launched in 2021.
This settlement might not satisfy some critics. It indemnifies Uber against future claims linked to wait fees. The company has also faced multiple lawsuits over a lack of ADA-mandated wheelchair-accessible vehicles — the agreement doesn't address those concerns. Even so, this may be a win for riders who've had no choice but to pay a premium due to their disabilities.