If you have a service dog and you’re using Uber services, you can’t be sure what exactly you can expect. Not all Uber drivers discriminate against service dogs. However, in the past, Uber was accommodating their drivers who were afraid of animals or allergic to them by allowing them to decline transportation, even to persons with disabilities.
However, their policy has changed a couple of years back due to a civil lawsuit filed against them by the National Federation of the Blind. Long story short, Uber settled and agreed to pay a sum of $225,000 and to educate their drivers about the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Did Uber drivers discriminate against service dogs in the past?
A short answer would be yes. Uber was defending itself and its drivers by claiming that they weren’t a transportation company but a technology company. Therefore, they considered that the Americans with Disabilities Act didn’t apply to them.
Furthermore, they insisted that Uber drivers aren’t employees but rather independent contractors. Because of this, Uber claimed, they couldn’t control how these independent contractors treated people with service animals.
However, when several claims were filed against drivers who refused to transport people with their service dogs, put the animal in the trunk of the car, or treated their riders with little to no respect, the tables started to turn.
Some of the drivers were reported to the police and to Uber, resulting in fines and in their inability to use the Uber app in the future.
Why do Uber drivers discriminate against service dogs?
We’re not picking sides here; we’re just trying to understand the motivation of these drivers to decline service to people with their service dogs.
Uber drivers use their own cars to transport riders. Here are some of the issues they reported when transporting animals in their vehicles:
- Animals would jump up on the seats and shed, resulting in dirty seats and animal hair left behind
- Having to go to the car wash each time after transporting people with animals due to the above
- Drivers didn’t know that the animals were service animals
- People were trying to pass emotional support animals and regular pets as service animals
- Drivers were afraid or animals they were transporting
- The driver or their family members have allergies to animal hair
- Drivers weren’t aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Will Uber drivers discriminate against service dogs in the future?
Uber is making sure that drivers are aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act by periodically reminding them of their obligations. Drivers now know that even fear of animals or allergies isn’t always a legitimate reason to decline service.
Therefore, today and in the years to come it’s less likely that an Uber driver will discriminate against you and your service animal. If they do, you can report them, and they won’t be able to work as Uber drivers anymore. Most of them aren’t willing to take their chances.
What the reality is regarding Uber and service animals
It’s illegal for drivers to decline service to riders with service animals. However, some people try to pass regular pets as service animals. This is also illegal and it’s making the situation a lot worse for everybody.
That’s why some drivers hesitate when they see riders with animals. Also, if they actually have severe pet allergies, is it really reasonable to make them transport pets? Considering that they can get sick while driving, this is not such a great idea.
On the other hand, some drivers are very accommodating as they have animals of their own and love animals. These drivers will gladly transport not only service animals but also emotional support animals and pets. Furthermore, a lot of drivers are very polite about it and will go out of their way to help the elderly, the persons with disabilities and their service dog get in and out of the vehicle safely. If you want to ensure you get this treatment, check out the UberASSIST option.