A local man filed a lawsuit against rideshare giant Uber, claiming that the company wrongfully fired him after riders misinterpreted his speech impediment as intoxication and reported him.
The former driver, Matthew Pack, said that he was fired after the company failed to properly investigate complaints made against him by riders who thought his speech, which was impaired as the result of a stroke, indicated that he was driving drunk.
"[Uber] failed to engage in an interactive process to determine how to accommodate [Pack's] disability ... and terminated [Pack's] employment based on his disability," stated a complaint filed in SLO County Superior Court by Pack's attorney, David Hamilton.
According to the lawsuit, Pack suffered a stroke in 2012. While it did not impact his ability to drive, it did leave him with slurred speech at times. Pack began driving for Uber in 2017 and was "excited about his new career path," the complaint stated.
"This was something he took great pride in as he enjoyed being able to work despite the obstacles he had to overcome due to his disability," Hamilton wrote.
Pack's trouble first began in October 2017, when Uber received a report from a rider that stated that he "appeared to be impaired" while driving. The lawsuit claims that Uber suspended Pack from work for 48 hours and did not respond to his offers to take a drug test and send them a dashboard camera video from the ride. Uber got similar reports about Pack in January and June of 2018, even after he placed a sign in his car explaining his medical condition and speech.
Again, Pack claimed that the company never requested any documentation or other evidence of his disability. Uber terminated Pack on June 5.
"This is horrible," Hamilton told New Times. "It's not an appropriate way for a company to behave."
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for Pack, whom Hamilton said suffered economic loss and emotional distress.
When reached for comment via email, an Uber spokesperson said they could not comment on the lawsuit. Δ