THE INVESTIGATORS: Woman alleges Uber driver discriminated against her over wheelchair
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A Baton Rouge woman alleges that an Uber driver broke the law when he refused to pick her up because of her wheelchair.
Elizabeth Morgan is the picture of independence, not letting anything stop her. She has a degenerative illness that meant she had to adapt to a wheelchair back in 2017. Morgan has faced every challenge in her life head on but was not prepared for what she says happened to her two months ago.
She tells WAFB she was waiting for an Uber to get to a doctor’s appointment, but once the driver arrived and saw her wheelchair, she claims he took off, refusing to pick her up.
“I was waiting on the sidewalk and the guy rolled his window down and he said, ‘Umm, I can’t take you in that,’” said Morgan. “He said he was not putting that in his car.”
At first, she was shocked and then disgusted.
”I felt very helpless,” Morgan added.
Morgan said she offered to help the driver get the chair into the car but that was not good enough.
“In fact I told him, once I get in your car, I can take my wheelchair apart and put most of it in the car myself. All I need is for you to take the chassis part of it and put it in. ‘Nope, not going in my car. I don’t want it to damage my car’. And I was like man, he’s in the wrong business. I said Uber has a discrimination policy and you can’t discriminate against me because I’m in a wheelchair. He said ‘I don’t care about the policy’ and he drove off,” said Morgan.
Morgan chose to report the driver to the company and someone from Uber sent back an apology and a refund for the ride.
The 9News Investigators reached out to the company and a spokesperson did confirm the incident, saying they investigated and reminded the driver of their policy.
Morgan says that is not enough if their drivers break the law.
”You can’t deny me a ride because I’m in a wheelchair or for any reason that pertains to your disability,” said Morgan.
According to their online policy, Uber says their riders are randomly matched with drivers to reduce the chance of unlawful discrimination. While Uber did not go into specifics on how the driver in this case was reprimanded, they did tell WAFB they have a team that looks into any complaints against a driver and, if any policies are violated, they take action which can range from a warning to removing the driver from their service.
While Morgan says she does not want the driver to lose his job, she does say what happened to her is wrong and the company needs to do a better job of making sure their drivers do not discriminate against folks who depend on them to get around.
“You can’t be doing stuff like that,” Morgan said.
This is not the first time Uber has faced allegations of discrimination.
The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the ride-sharing service back in November 2021. The lawsuit alleges Uber is illegally overcharging riders by adding “wait time” fees to their rides, even for those riders who are disabled and may need extra time to get into the car.
According to the lawsuit, Uber has possibly been improperly charging those fees since 2016.
WAFB’s Scottie Hunter asked Morgan if it surprises her that something like this happened.
“No,” said Morgan. “Not after this incident.”
A representative would not comment on the lawsuit but did tell WAFB they regularly educate their drivers on their discrimination policy, adding that discrimination of any kind is not tolerated.
The lawsuit can be viewed at this link.
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