WASHINGTON - A mother of a 7-year-old boy is accusing two Uber drivers of discriminating against them.
Frances Gage and her 7-year-old son Joe rely on Uber to get to work and school. Her son has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. She said transporting his equipment has never been a problem until recently when the Uber drivers refused to transport them.
The first incident happened on Feb. 20 as Gage and her son waited outside their home for the driver. She said the driver pulled up, but when he saw her son in his wheelchair, he locked his doors and refused to let them in.
She recorded the interaction and you can hear Gage repeatedly tell the driver her son's wheelchair breaks down. But the driver said, "No, I’m sorry, we don’t have wheelchair access" before driving off.
The second incident happened on Monday. The female driver told Gage that she would not be able to give them a ride because of her son's wheelchair.
“He's a normal 7-year-old kid, so for him to be denied in front of me, that is hurtful and that is hurtful for him too because he is not understanding, and I can't even explain to him to understand that he is being discriminated against,” said the mother. “I try to teach him now at a young age that regardless of what people say to you, you are special, you are important. Don't let anything, anyone say to you affect you.”
Uber's guidelines state there is zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, including against anyone with a disability.
Uber said the driver in the first incident has since been let go as a result.
"We're upset about the experience described and have reached out to both the rider and drivers involved,” Uber said in a statement. “Driver-partners who use the Uber app agree to comply with all accessibility laws."
Gage was refunded for both rides, but said she will not be using Uber anymore.