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Montreal man launches class action suit against Uber for not accommodating people with disabilities

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A Montreal man who has a physical disability is the lead plaintiff in an application for a class action lawsuit against Uber.

Laurent Morisette says he's repeatedly booked trips with Uber, only to be turned down because the vehicles that show up can't accommodate him or his wheelchair.

Saro Turner, a lawyer from the Slater Vecchio law firm in Montreal, filed the legal challenge in Superior Court on Tuesday. 

He said it's frustrating because Uber, which has operated in Quebec since 2014, says it has a service that's supposed to specifically cater to people with physical disabilities.

"The class action vehicle we hope will provide access to justice for compensation but more importantly perhaps is behaviour modification. That's what we want. We want, ultimately, Uber to remedy this by incentivizing drivers who they control to provide service in a meaningful way," Turner said in an interview on Wednesday.

"That's really what it's all about — providing services so that the disabled community can, moving forward, participate more fully and equally in the aspects of life be it cultural, political, economic, etc."

Lawyer Saro Turner filed the class-action lawsuit claim in Superior Court on behalf of a Montreal resident who uses a wheelchair. (CTV News)

Uber notes riders can notify drivers of special accommodations via text and chat before pick-up.

"Our technology and the transportation provided by drivers has transformed mobility for many people," said Jonathan Hamel, Uber's Quebec public affairs manager. "We’re continuously innovating to support Quebecers' easy movement around their communities."

He adds that the company has "complied with and respected" Quebec's Act respecting remunerated passenger transportation by automobile, which was adopted in the province in 2019.

"To support options for riders with disabilities, Uber has worked to make our app accessible and provide in-app tools to help make the experience as seamless and accommodating as possible," he said, quoting the company's approach to accessibility. "Uber additionally maintains a policy which states the expectation that drivers are to accommodate riders with disabilities in accordance with the law."

The class action, which alleged breaches of the Quebec Charter and the province's Consumer Protection Act, must be authorized by a judge before it can proceed.

The lawsuit seeks compensation to "all individuals who have been denied access to Uber Ride Services due to physical disabilities in Quebec from October 29, 2014, to the date that this action is certified as a class proceeding."

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