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Blind Passenger Sues Uber for Dragging Her and Service Dog Down the Street

Author: Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs : Contact: washlaw.org

Published: 2016-06-03

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Blind Passenger Sues Uber for Dragging Her and Her Service Dog Down the Street, Violating Federal and State Disability Laws - Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Gilbert LLP File Federal Lawsuit.

The Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (the "Committee") and Gilbert LLP have filed today a lawsuit in federal district court in the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of Tiffany Jolliff against Uber, alleging violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the Virginians with Disabilities Act ("VDA") for Uber's unlawful refusal to accommodate Ms. Jolliff, a blind passenger, and her service dog, Railey, and for injuring them in the process.

The Complaint alleges that Ms. Jolliff, who works as a policy specialist for the federal government on employment for workers with disabilities, has been repeatedly discriminated against and denied Uber's services when Uber's drivers have seen that she is accompanied by her service dog Railey. Specifically, instead of accommodating her service dog Railey, as both the ADA and VDA require, Uber drivers have repeatedly driven off upon seeing that Ms. Jolliff had a service dog.

The lawsuit, Jolliff v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al., arises from a June 14, 2015 incident that resulted in injury to Ms. Jolliff. As alleged in the Complaint, during that incident, the Uber driver who agreed to transport Ms. Jolliff yelled "that dog" is not allowed in the car and drove off. Not only did Uber's driver refuse to provide Uber's service to Ms. Jolliff and Railey, but the complaint also alleges that the Uber driver drove away while Ms. Jolliff was attempting to enter the car. As a result, Ms. Jolliff was dragged several feet, tripped, and suffered injuries.

"Imagine waiting for an Uber, which is supposed to be a quick, convenient way to travel, and repeatedly being denied services due to your disability and service animal," said Deepa Goraya, a Washington Lawyers' Committee staff attorney. "There is no excuse for this discrimination. By taking legal action, we hope to prevent this type of discrimination in the future and ensure that Uber and its drivers accommodate service animals that are often vital to a blind passenger's mobility."

"Federal law requires Uber to treat blind customers equally and accommodate their service animals," said Peter Romer-Friedman, Deputy Director of Litigation of the Washington Lawyers' Committee. "Uber cannot build its business model around flouting laws that protect consumers or workers."

When Congress enacted the ADA, it provided a clear and national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Such prohibited discrimination includes discrimination in the provision of taxi services and other public and private transportation. Services like Uber must reasonably accommodate blind passengers and their service dogs.

Established in 1968, the nonprofit Washington Lawyers' Committee provides pro bono legal services to address discrimination and poverty issues in the Washington, DC region. The Washington Lawyers' Committee's work has included thousands of civil rights cases on behalf of individuals and groups in the areas of equal employment opportunity, fair housing, public accommodations, immigrant rights, disability rights, public education, veterans' rights, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, and prisoners' rights. For more information, see www.washlaw.org

Based in Washington, DC, Gilbert LLP is a law firm focused on insurance recovery and litigation, and strategic consulting. The firm's clients include business entities, debtors and creditors in bankruptcy matters, trusts and committees formed in such cases, law firms, accounting firms and other professional service organizations, non-profits and individuals. For more information about Gilbert LLP, visit www.gotofirm.com

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