SAN FRANCISCO — Uber will pay more than $2 million and waive wait time fees for passengers with disabilities to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Department of Justice said Monday.
The lawsuit alleged that Uber's wait time fees, which begin two minutes after a rideshare vehicle arrives, were discriminatory to passengers who need more time to board due to a disability.
"A passenger may, for example, use a wheelchair or walker that needs to be broken down and stored in the car," the DOJ said in a release. "Or a passenger who is blind may need additional time to safely walk from the pickup location to the car itself."
As part of a two-year agreement, Uber vowed to waive wait time fees for passengers who certify that they, or someone they travel with, need more time to board because of a disability.
Uber will pay $1,738,500 to more than a thousand riders who complained to the company about being charged wait time fees because of a disability, and $500,000 to others the DOJ identifies as harmed by the policy, the department said.
More than 65,000 passengers with disabilities who signed up for a waiver program will receive credits for double what they paid in wait time fees -- an agreement the DOJ said could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
An Uber spokesperson said the company is satisfied with the agreement and will continue "to help everyone move easily around their communities."
"It has long been our policy to refund wait time fees for riders with a disability when they alerted us that they were charged, and prior to this matter being filed we made changes so that any rider who shares that they have a disability would have wait time fees waived automatically," the company said in a statement.
Uber said wait time fees are meant to compensate drivers for their time and averaged less than $0.60 in 2020.