Third Circuit Holds Uber Cannot Force Arbitration Of Discrimination Claims

In O’Hanlon v. Uber Technologies, Inc., the Third Circuit framed the issue as follows:

As Uber would tell it, when Plaintiffs filed their disability-discrimination suit in federal court, they wound themselves in a Gordian knot: They do not have standing to sue unless they would agree to Uber’s Terms of Use, but those terms would require Plaintiffs to arbitrate their claim instead of litigating it in federal court.

In a case brought by motorized wheelchair users, plaintiffs alleged that Uber violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not offering a “wheelchair accessible vehicle” in the Pittsburgh area. Uber moved to compel, asserting that “even though Plaintiffs had never registered for an Uber account or accepted its Terms of Use, they were nevertheless bound by the mandatory arbitration clause of that agreement.”

Both the lower court and the Third Circuit on interlocutory appeal rejected Uber’s claim that, by not downloading and agreeing to Uber’s terms of use–which included an arbitration provision–plaintiffs lacked standing. Likewise, the courts rejected Uber’s contention that, even though plaintiffs had not agreed to the terms of use, they were equitably estopped from avoiding the obligation to arbitrate.

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