New Yorkers for Equal Transportation Access
As the rise of Uber has begun to transform the transportation services industry, what has become clear is that for all of the support that the newcomer has garnered from a segment of the riding public, it has totally ignored the needs of the disabled. Uber has done so by claiming, against all evidence, that it is a technology company and not a Transportation Network Company-the generic name for most taxi and other car pick up services.
In response to Uber’s blatant disregard for the rights of the disabled—and its flouting of the Americans with Disabilities Act—a new group has been formed, New Yorkers for Equal Transportation Access (NYETA), to make sure that Uber conforms to the laws and regulations that every other Transportation Network Company must adhere to. No technological sleight of hand should allow this darling of Wall Street hedge funds to place itself outside of the law.
As NYETA spokesperson, Brad Gerstman points out;
“There is a reason why Uber is being sued all over the country. In jurisdictions across this country, disabled folks are being humiliated by Uber drivers-denied service because of their disability. That a company whose valuation has been estimated to exceed $50 billion feels it can treat the disabled as second class citizens underscore the arrogance and the greed of Uber and its high roller investors.”
Gerstman is well positioned to represent NYETA-coming as he does from decades of work representing the disabled in the autism community. In 2008, Gerstman was named Co-Chair of the Nassau Autism Coalition by Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.
As he has pointed out on his website;
“Unfortunately, abuse of people with disabilities is an all too common occurrence in our society. Because disabled individuals are often discriminated and disrespected, and their civil rights are often violated, it is critical that we do whatever it takes to protect this fragile contingent.”
Fortunately, the coalition of disabled advocates is becoming more active and aggressive in pushing back against the arrogance of Uber. Class action lawsuits are proliferated to force the company to comply with the ADA regulations;
“In three ADA-related cases over the past eight months, in California, Texas, and Arizona, Uber has been slammed with lawsuits that allege the company discriminates against blind and wheelchair-using passengers. The suits demand Uber abide by the ADA, but Uber claims that because it’s a technology company, not a transportation service, it doesn’t fall under the ADA’s jurisdiction.”
Now, the Department of Justice has joined in chastising Uber for its claim that it is somehow exempt from the same regulations that govern other taxi services;
“Earlier this year, the Justice Department intervened in a lawsuit that the National Federation of the Blind of California brought against Uber, which accuses the company of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act. Uber moved to dismiss the case, arguing that as a tech platform, it’s not bound by the ADA. But the Justice Department didn’t see it this way, and in a statement of interest in February, the Department urged the federal court in California not to drop the case…
“The United States’ interests are particularly strong here,” the department said, adding that the lawsuit “goes to the very heart of the ADA’s goals.”
– In April, the court decided to let the lawsuit proceed. (http://www.wired.com/2015/08/uber-disability/)
In New York, advocates are also taking aim-filing a complaint with the city’s Human Rights Commission;
“In the complaint, Dustin Jones — who has appeared in United Spinal Association ads critical of Uber’s wheelchair accessibility — alleges the ride-hailing company has not done enough to enable wheelchair riders to use its service. He accuses Uber of discriminating against people with disabilities.”
Uber responds to all of these legal attacks by claiming they have addressed the issue by creating an app! What does the app do? It funnels the call to a regular cab company to respond to the disabled customer. Gerstman points out the absurdity of this defense;
“Uber is saying that they comply with the ADA by referring customers to the very taxis that they are trying to put out of business-and who if they are successful will not be around to pick up the disabled. Talk about chutzpah!”
New Yorkers for Equal Transportation Access is planning an aggressive grass roots lobbying campaign to bring down the arrogance of Uber. Walmart got its comeuppance in NYC, Uber is next on the menu.
For Press Inquiries Contact Brad Gerstman at (516) 880-8170 or firstname.lastname@example.org