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Uber ordered to pay $ 1 million to Bay Area woman who refused to travel




An arbitrator ordered Uber to pay a Bay Area woman more than $ 1 million after ruling that she had been denied service on multiple occasions.

Lisa Irving, a Mill Valley resident, who is blind and uses a guide dog named Bernie, received $ 1.1 million after the arbitrator ruled in her complaint which was denied 14 times between 2016 and 2017. Uber argued that the fault lay with the individual drivers, who are independent contractors, but the arbitrator found the company to be beholden to the Americans with Disabilities Act anyway.

“Uber’s own investigations revealed that these drivers knowingly refused Ms Irving to come because of her guide dog,” the referee wrote in last week’s decision.

The arbitrator reviewed 14 specific cases and ordered payment in each of them. The damages ranged from the statutory floor of $ 4,000 to two for $ 75,000 each. In one case, the driver was allegedly verbally abusive and Irving said she feared for her safety.

“Ms. Irving filed complaints with Uber hoping they would be investigated, Uber would take further action, and Uber would report back to her,” the arbitrator wrote. “When Uber conducted an investigation, its investigators were trained, in some cases, to help drivers find non-discriminatory reasons for refusals to drive.”

Complaints about denial of service to blind passengers due to their service animals have been around since the early days of Uber’s ridesharing service. In 2014, the National Federation of the Blind and others filed a class action lawsuit against Uber in federal court in San Jose seeking denial of service when blind riders were accompanied by service animals. The NFB and Uber settled the class action lawsuit in 2016.

Irving was awarded $ 324,000 in damages. In addition, the court awarded his lawyer fees in excess of $ 800,000.

“We believe this may be the largest compensation ever awarded to a single blind claimant for repeated violations of the United States Disability Act and California Unruh Act,” said lawyer for ‘Irving in a statement.

The Bay City press service contributed to this report.

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