A “SLAM DUNK” AGAINST DISCRIMINATION: THE LAWSUIT THAT COULD SPEARHEAD ACCESSIBILITY IN THE DIGITAL WORLD

April 21, 2022
NC-JOLT-Vol-23.3_526-557_Brown

Despite our increased reliance on transportation network companies (“TNCs”) and other sharing economy services, like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, the United States government has let the promises and protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) lag behind the proliferation of the Internet. The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is currently trying to fill this gap in a new lawsuit against Uber Technologies, Inc., using the company’s wait time fee structure to allege impermissible discrimination under the ADA. The DOJ must first establish the ADA’s applicability to Uber and other TNCs, with traditional transportation service companies providing a regulatory roadmap. The DOJ is far more likely than past private litigants to achieve this categorization, as it avoids the often-fatal arbitration clause that binds all Uber app users and is motivated to create some kind of legal precedent rather than settle for monetary compensation. The lawsuit also has the potential to influence the current federal circuit split regarding the ADA’s general applicability to websites and mobile applications as public accommodations, which will have far-reaching implications for disability access in the twenty-first century.

Author: Ellenor Brown

PDF: http://ncjolt.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2022/04/NC-JOLT-Vol-23.3_526-557_Brown.pdf

Volume 23, Issue 3