Chattanooga native says Uber driver denied her ride because of her wheelchair
A Virginia woman says her Uber driver refused to give her a ride because of her wheelchair.
Kelley Simoneaux said she ordered a ride Wednesday night after leaving a restaurant in Arlington.
According to Simoneaux, the driver pulled up in a minivan and she then opened the front door and got herself into the van. The driver didn't get out and someone else at the restaurant offered to help her with her wheelchair.
"It's easy. My wheelchair is light, it's able to be broken down very compact. As he was wheeling it around, the gentleman, the driver who had not gotten out of the car at that point or looked at me or acknowledged me, turned around, got out of the car and said, 'No, no, stop! You can't put your wheelchair in there I don't have space for it,'" Simoneaux said.
Simoneaux said she explained to the driver that the chair could be broken down easily and it wasn't much bigger than a size of luggage but the driver kept insisting there was no space for it.
"Are you saying that you're not able to give me a ride because of my wheelchair? And he said, 'I don't have space. I don't have room in this vehicle for your wheelchair," she said.
At that point, she said she felt very uncomfortable and upset and got out of the van.
"The people around me who were witnessing this happen, as well as myself, were honestly in shock. It's not often that you have someone so blatantly discriminating someone to their face," she said.
She called another Uber, which took her home without incident.
Simoneaux later received a notification the first driver had charged her.
"So I was charged $6.80 for a ride that he refused to provide me," she said.
After the interaction with the driver she started looking at other online groups and connecting with people who had experienced similar situations with ride-share drivers.
"This is not an isolated incident. This is something that is happening within Uber," Simoneaux said. "I've been trying to reach out to them multiple times saying there needs to be a conversation. We need to talk about how ridesharing businesses can accommodate and give equal access to people with disabilities."
Uber refunded her the $6.80, but Simoneaux said she wasn't satisfied with their response to her complaint.
She said she wants to have a discussion with the company's Executive Officer of Diversity and Inclusion about the issue.
Uber gave the following statement to News4:
“Our Community Guidelines prohibit any type of discrimination in serving riders with disabilities. We have been in contact with the rider and continue to investigate this matter.”
Read more from NBC Washington's website.