Uber Wins Case Despite Failure to Provide WAV Services in New Orleans and Jackson, MS
By PVA Staff
On July 25, a California federal judge ruled that Uber is not required to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) in New Orleans, LA, and Jackson, MS.
In the consolidated case of Crawford v. Uber and Namisnak v. Uber, three power wheelchair users sued Uber alleging that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide WAV services in their home cities and for effectively banning WAVs under their vehicle eligibility criteria. Although Uber offers WAV services in 11 other cities, it does not have WAVs in New Orleans or Jackson.
The judge held that offering WAV services in these cities would be unreasonable and, thus, not required under the ADA. Under the ADA, companies must make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to provide services to individuals with disabilities, unless it would fundamentally alter the service. The judge determined that although WAVs do not fundamentally alter Uber’s rideshare service, the cost and inability to provide the service at all hours would require an unreasonable modification.
In addition, Uber has vehicle eligibility criteria for drivers, including a ban on aftermarket seating modifications. The judge found that although the ban did effectively screen out WAVs, the policy alone did not screen out all power wheelchair users since Uber could not guarantee that a WAV would even be available for the plaintiff’s rides. The judge did clarify that just because a reasonable modification may result in more than a minimal cost, it was not necessarily unreasonable, and that complying with the ADA was not a punishment to companies, but rather, the law. Furthermore, the opinion explained that this ruling does not mean that all lawsuits against rideshare companies demanding WAV services would never succeed.