A vision-impaired Lakeland, Florida woman says she was denied a ride by a Lyft driver because of her service dog.
Shauna English of Lakeland, Florida had a stroke in 2014 which caused her to lose her eyesight. Although she is mostly independent, she relies on her service dog, PJ, to safely navigate the world.
Last week, after grocery shopping with PJ by her side, English ordered a ride from Lyft, the rideshare application that serves as an alternative to traditional taxis. She told ABC Action News, when the driver pulled up and saw PJ, she refused to give the pair a ride.
“…she showed up and rolled down her window and said, are you Shauna English? I said yes. That’s when she told me I’d have to find another ride,” she said. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time English and PJ have been denied a ride. Last month, another driver refused them service, too.
“You’re standing there with your groceries and your guide dog and what are the options that you have?”
English ended up taking a city bus home, with PJ guiding the way. But, she reported the incidents to Lyft who said both drivers violated the company’s policy. Refusing service to a disabled person or a service dog is also against the law.
A Lyft spokesperson said, “Lyft takes any allegation of this nature incredibly seriously. As soon as we were made aware of these incidents, we immediately reached out to the passenger to offer our support.
Lyft’s service animal policy requires that drivers may not deny service or otherwise discriminate against passengers with service animals. Failure to abide by that policy can result in deactivation from the Lyft platform. Any form of discrimination on our platform is simply unacceptable.”
Additionally, the company offered her $5 credit for each incident. But, English says, it’s not about the money, that the drivers need to take responsibility and be held accountable for their actions.
It is unclear whether the drivers will face any charges related to refusing service to a disabled person and her service dog.
Last year, multiple reports of the similar rideshare program, Uber, refusing service to passengers with service dogs led the company to strengthen their policies and better inform drivers of their responsibilities and the law as well as immediately terminating drivers that refuse to serve disabled passengers.