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Uber driver Angle Nares, left, helps Mike Hess, who is blind, out of his car in Cherry Creek, Colo. Blind people and others with disabilities are heavily reliant on Uber to get around. (2016, Denver Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — Uber Technologies Inc will pay more than $2 million and waive wait time fees for disabled passengers to settle U.S. allegations that the ride share company had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Department of Justice said on Monday.
As part of a two-year agreement, Uber will waive wait time fees for certified disabled riders and pay $1,738,500 to more than 1,000 riders who complained about the charges and $500,000 to others harmed by the practice, the department said.
Uber will also credit accounts for more than 65,000 eligible riders, it added.
The department sued the company in November after passengers complained that they were charged fees for taking more than two minutes to get into their ride share cars, noting in its announcement Monday that blind passengers may take longer to reach the waiting car or those with walkers or wheelchairs may take longer to get in.
“People with disabilities should not be made to feel like second-class citizens or punished because of their disability,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said in a statement, adding that the settlement will send “a strong message that Uber and other ridesharing companies will be held accountable.”
An Uber spokesperson welcomed the settlement and said it would continue “to help everyone move easily around their communities” and keep “working to improve accessibility for all users.”
“It has long been our policy to refund wait time fees for riders with a disability when they alerted us that they were charged,” it said, adding that it had made changes before the lawsuit to have disabled riders’ wait time fees waived automatically when Uber is notified that they were charged.