Gloria Steinem’s Christmas Wish

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Marnie Joyce licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Car service app Uber has come under fire more than once in the past year. Not only has the company faced allegations of sexual assault perpetrated by drivers, but multiple recent claims suggest that Uber, and similar ride-hailing app Lyft, violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to accommodate passengers with disabilities.

On Dec. 5 at The BETTY Effect‘s annual holiday concert, Gloria Steinem took on the ride service company in her Christmas wish list. Coming in at number 5 was Steinem’s wish for Uber to end its unregulated price increases, and to stop discriminating against disabled passengers. She said:

I want Uber to stop charging for the weather—nobody, not even airlines, charge for the weather!—and I want Uber to stop refusing people with disabilities, and now, with 30,000 unregulated Uber cars in New York City, driving wheelchair accessible taxis out of business. Don’t let Uber become uber alles.

The company is currently battling lawsuits related to disability discrimination in three states—California, Arizona and Texas. Under the ADA, transportation service providers must accommodate any passenger whose equipment can fit into the car, and drivers must also take in service animals accompanying visually impaired passengers. Uber says that it requires drivers to comply with the law, but it can’t force them to purchase wheelchair-accessible cars since drivers are independent contractors.

Although the Uber app includes an option that allows users to request a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, and it also offers training for drivers on working with passengers with disabilities, advocates say it isn’t enough. They say all drivers working with companies like Uber and Lyft should receive mandatory training in order to accommodate passengers needing assistance.

Steinem’s wish to end discrimination is something we can all agree would make Christmas very merry indeed! To read the rest of our co-founding editor’s perfectly poignant Christmas wish list, click here.


Vienna Urias is an editorial intern at Ms.