Boston Police are investigating an incident involving an Uber driver that refused service to a blind woman because of her service dog before dragging her legally blind boyfriend down the street after his hand became caught in the car window.
Milissa Garside and her boyfriend, Richard Welch, who are both legally blind, were standing outside their Boston home waiting for an Uber when the driver arrived, saw her service dog, rolled down the window, and said “no dogs.”
The couple, who are well-versed in the Americans With Disabilities Act, informed the Uber driver, known by his profile as “Allen,” that it was illegal for him to refuse the ride because of Garside’s service dog, Theo.
That’s when Welch reached into the Toyota Camry to unlock the back door so that Garside and her service dog could get in. The Uber driver quickly rolled up the window and sped off, with Welch’s hand caught inside. He was dragged about 10 to 15 feet before falling into the street.
Following the incident, the couple contact Boston Police who are investigating the incident they’re calling “assualt and aggravated battery on a disabled person” after Welch sustained injuries that required a hospital visit and stitches to his hand.
Uber immediately banned the driver and removed his access to the popular ride-sharing app, saying in a statement, “We are sorry to hear about this disturbing report and we are reaching out to check on the rider’s well-being. “Drivers are expected to accommodate riders with service animals and comply with all accessibility laws.”
Uber asserts that all drivers must agree to transport service animals as part of their contract with the company and that they prohibit any kind of discrimination against disabled riders. Drivers are reminded of their obligation to transport disabled riders and service dogs in quarterly reminders.
Still, Garside and Welch say Uber isn’t doing enough to ensure their drivers are following the laws. Garside told DailyMail that at least one-third of her ride requests are denied because of her service dog.
“It needs to stop. I just want to be able to take a ride like everyone else. I don’t have time to request four or five before one agrees to take me.”