An Alabama man is accusing Uber of refusing his service because he travels with a service dog.
As his local ABC outlet reports, Bill Adams of Tuscaloosa, Ala., who is blind, booked an Uber ride on Monday. Adams planned to travel from his workplace to the bank, where he would pick up some cash as part of his wife’s birthday present. Per usual, his beloved service dog, Travis, would be along for the journey.
Only that’s not what the Uber driver had in mind. According to Adams, whose co-worker was able to pull up video footage from their company’s security cameras, the driver bailed when she noticed his animal.
“She starts pulling into the pull-around, sees [Travis], backs up, and drives off and cancels the trip right after that,” Adams told ABC 33/40.
Adams was able to book another ride, but the bank had closed by the time he got there — and he blames the first Uber driver for the holdup. For him, the canceled ride also demonstrated the discrimination people with disabilities face.
“Just because I’m different, you feel like it’s OK for you to treat me differently,” Adams said. “I’m a productive member of this society. I work. I do whatever I can to live my life, and you try to stop me from doing that. It hits home every single time this happens.”
Yahoo has reached out to Uber for comment. The ride-sharing app’s website notes that it is illegal to discriminate or deny service to riders with service animals. It warns that drivers who are in violation of this policy will be banned from the app.
It is unclear if Adams has lodged a formal complaint about the driver, whose information is presumably on file with the app. But he’s not the first visually impaired customer to be let down by the app. In October 2017, an Austin, Texas, man with congenital glaucoma, Dimitrios Kouniaris, said his Uber driver balked at having a service dog in his car, then drove off while Kouniaris was still holding onto the car door.
Uber responded to that incident by severing ties with the driver in question.
“Drivers are expected to accommodate riders with service animals and comply with all accessibility laws,” the company said in a statement. “We’ve removed this driver’s access to Uber and have reached out to check on the rider’s well-being and are grateful he was not injured.”
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