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Disability Advocate Lodges Uber Discrimination Complaint


Tuesday, 12th April 2016 at 9:59 am
Ellie Cooper, Journalist
Former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes has lodged complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission against ride-sharing service Uber after two drivers refused to transport his guide dog.

Tuesday, 12th April 2016
at 9:59 am
Ellie Cooper, Journalist


1 Comments


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Disability Advocate Lodges Uber Discrimination Complaint
Tuesday, 12th April 2016 at 9:59 am

Former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes has lodged complaints with the  Australian Human Rights Commission against ride-sharing service Uber after two drivers refused to transport his guide dog.

Both incidents occurred on 24 March when Innes ordered back-to-back Uber cars in Sydney to pick up his daughter from hospital.

“[The first Uber] arrived and I walked towards the car and he said I can’t take pets, and I said this is not a pet this is a guide dog, there’s a requirement to carry guide dogs. And he said no this is a new car, this is a brand new car, it’s a $90,000 car, I can’t take animals in the car it will just make it messy,” Innes told Pro Bono Australia News.

“We talked the issue to and fro for a minute or so and he was very pleasant, he wasn’t angry about it or rude, but he just said I’m not taking an animal in my car, I don’t have to.”

The driver cancelled the trip, which meant Innes incurred a small fee, and he booked a second Uber.

“By this stage I was a bit more stressed because I needed to pick up my daughter, she was waiting for me,” he said.

“When the car pulled up I just opened the door and got in the car, and the driver said to me, no pets, and I said this is not a pet this is a guide dog and you’re required to take guide dogs.

“We talked about it for a while, and I was sitting in the car as we were talking about it. Whereas I hadn’t been quite as assertive with the first guy, I said to him you can call into Uber if you want, but you are required to carry dogs.

“He then agreed to do the job but drove in what seemed to me was a somewhat dangerous and scary manner, including yelling at other drivers. I got to the hospital more shaken than at the start of the trip.”

After returning home from the hospital, Innes tweeted about his experience, and emailed Uber support to explain the situation in detail.

While Uber responded on Twitter and refunded the cancellation fee and the cost of the second trip, Innes told the company he expected more significant action.  

“I said in the email that I was seeking compensation and that I was seeking to be advised as to the disciplining of the two drivers involved,” he said.

“Last Saturday I hadn’t received any advice from them along those lines so I lodged two complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission, and I tweeted about that.”

Uber responded on Twitter and contacted Innes over the phone on Monday.

“They have advised me on the disciplining on the drivers, both drivers have been disciplined. And I’m waiting for emails to finalise it,” he said.

He said that he was still discussing his settlement with Uber, but would withdraw his complaints with the Human Rights Commission once he was satisfied with the terms and they were confirmed in writing.

Uber’s policy is that guide dogs and assistance animals have to be carried by their drivers, and Innes said that the two incidents were out of the ordinary.

“I have to say that I don’t know [how] many Uber trips I’ve done, but I’m a regular Uber user and I’ve never had this problem apart from those two trips,” he said.

“I think their policy is, in broad terms, carried out. They’ve assured me that it’s part of their [driver] training.”

A spokesperson for Uber told Pro Bono Australia News that the company has clear non-discrimination guidelines and expects compliance with all state, federal and local laws governing the transportation of riders with disabilities.

“On background, we have resolved the individual issue about this isolated incident. We believe that everyone should be able to get access to reliable and affordable transport, including those with accessibility needs and assistance dogs and we are working with assistance and guide dogs advocates to seek their expert advice about any improvements to driver-partner onboarding,” the spokesperson said.


Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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One Comment

  • Ted Wards says:

    Thank you for standing up for the rights of all in an ever changing universe. I am just alarmed that the focus in on compensation rather than education. Surely a better outcome would be a new induction process for drivers about guide dogs and other assistance dogs. Uber is a good service and I use it often but I do not have these issues to deal with.

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