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Lyft Sued for Discrimination by Wheelchair Users

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. on March 14, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When you own and operate a business, it's always important to comply with all applicable small business laws. A new lawsuit filed against Lyft is alleging that the rideshare company is in violation of laws that guarantee equal access to those with disabilities. More specifically, Disability Rights Advocates have filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Lyft "discriminates against people who use wheelchairs by not making available wheelchair-accessible cars in the San Francisco Bay Area."

Equal Access to All

The lawsuit claims that Lyft directly violates both the California Disabled Persons Act and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which guarantees full and equal accommodations to individuals with disabilities. Although Lyft offers a service called Access, which is designed to serve individuals who have disabilities, the plaintiff's claim that the service "a sham and a completely inadequate substitute for actual accessible transportation."

More specifically, the lawsuit states: "Instead of connecting a rider in access mode with an accessible vehicle, Lyft sends the rider a text message with a link to a website listing phone numbers for paratransit, public transportation agencies, and local taxi companies around the country."

Lyft's Inaccessible Access Mode

According to TechCrunch, when it requested a Lyft car in Access mode, the following message was received: "Lyft accommodates service animals and foldable wheelchairs. If you need a vehicle with a ramp or lift, visit to connect to local services." This message does indicate that Lyft cars, even when using the company's program designated for wheelchair users, isn't feasible for those who cannot get in and out of their wheelchairs.

The lawsuit additionally explains how public transportation and paratransit for wheelchair users pose major limitations, which is why "many persons with disabilities must use private transportation services to travel from one place to another."

The plaintiffs aren't seeking money. Instead, they're looking for equal access to Lyft. Of note, Uber is also facing various lawsuits relating to the lack of accommodation for users with disabilities. In fact, the Disability Rights Advocates have also filed similar lawsuits against Uber in California and New York.

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