Uber driver denies ride to blind man’s service dog

Dave Tolmie and his service dog, Divit (NBC photo)

MADISON, Wis. – A Madison, Wisconsin man says he was denied service by an Uber driver because of his service dog.

It was the man’s first time trying to use Uber, and he says it couldn’t have been a worse experience.

Dave Tolmie and Divit have been a pair for the last five-and-a-half years.  And Divit is far from your average dog.

Tolmie was born blind, and he says his service dog, Divit, is a blessing.

Thursday, Divit needed his nails trimmed, so Dave ordered an Uber after first checking it’s website to make sure Divit would be welcome.

But, that was far from the case when the car rolled up.

Dave said, “He said, ‘I have a problem with getting the dog in the car.’ I said, ‘Oh it’s ok, he’s used to riding in the car.’ He said, ‘No I don’t want the dog in the car.'”

Dave says he told the driver that Divit was a seeing eye dog, and that under the Americans with Disabilities Act he’s allowed to go with him everywhere he goes. But, Dave says the driver didn’t care.

Dave said the driver cancelled his ride and charged a one dollar cancellation fee.

According to a statement from an Uber spokesperson: “Driver partners are instructed in ADA regulations, and while they are permitted under the law not to take a service animal for issues like allergies, safety or religious beliefs, drivers with those concerns are directed to wait with the rider until another Uber arrives.”

Dave says he’s not so much concerned about getting his dollar back as he is about making sure no one else has to go through what he did.
Tolmie has filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission and the city of Madison, Wisconsin.

He says he’s also contemplating getting a private attorney to handle his case.

Tolmie says he’s just lucky the trip wasn’t an emergency.

Saturday, a spokesperson for Uber issued the following statement:

All drivers with Uber are expected to comply fully with ADA requirements, and we provide our driver community with information on best practices for accommodating riders with disabilities. Our Code of Conduct specifically prohibits any type of discrimination in serving riders with disabilities. Uber also requires driver partners to accommodate service animals in compliance with accessibility laws.

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