Blind woman wins argument against Uber
A blind woman is spearheading a campaign against Uber drivers after being repeatedly snubbed because she has a guide dog. Jade Sharp, 23, said some drivers for the hire firm cancel pick-ups when they learn that her five-year-old golden retriever Brodie will be coming along.
Four Uber drivers have been found guilty of breaching equality laws after Transport for London prosecutions based on her evidence, and four more cases are still to be heard.
Ms Sharp and her blind friend Vanessa Smith, 21, had booked his minicab to pick them up from a concert at Fairfield Halls in Croydon on May 7 last year. But when she called the Uber driver to say Brodie would be joining them — Uber has no option in its app to alert drivers — he replied, “I don’t take pets”. Ms Sharp, who was born blind, said she explained, “He is not a pet, he is a working dog. He is my eyes” and threatened to report him to Uber.
In court the driver said he did not understand that Brodie was a guide dog, and refused pets as they would set off his allergies. But District Judge Jeremy Coleman found him guilty of breaking the Equality Act 2010, saying: “I listened to the defendant with care but I don’t believe what he said to me.”
An Uber spokesman apologised and said the driver no longer worked for the firm. “Whilst the drivers on the Uber platform are self-employed we remind them of their legal obligation to take service animals before they can start driving,” he said. “Any Uber partner-driver who doesn’t accept service animals not only risks having their Uber partnership revoked, but also risks having their private hire licence taken away.”