Uber driver suspended after refusing to drive man and service dog

ThinkStock Photo

ThinkStock Photo

TENNESSEE — A Middle Tennessee Uber driver has been suspended after police say she refused to give a ride to a man and his service dog.

Thomas Jones said he called an Uber to pick him up from the grocery store on Sunday.

As usual, he had his guide dog Blake with him.

“He helps me around class. He helps me around campus,” Jones said.

Jones has retinitis pigmentosa, and has lost all sight in his right eye.

Blake helps him get around.

Jones said as he was about to get in the car, the driver asked him a question.

“She asked me if I was going to put him in a cage,” Jones said.

Jones said he explained Blake was his service guide dog, but the driver said she couldn’t have dogs in her car. She then canceled the ride and left.

“I was hurt. I was really hurt. You have a buggy full of groceries and, you know, you are trying to hurry up and get home. I was really hurt,” Jones said.

Jones called police and filed a report. An officer then gave him a ride home.

Uber spokeswoman Susan Hendrick said the driver has been suspended while the ride-sharing company investigates.

Hendrick added the company may deactivate the driver’s account permanently.

A training video all independent contractors are required to watch clearly states it’s necessary for drivers to allow service dogs in vehicles. Service animals should be able to ride with the passenger on the floor of the backseat of the car.

The American with Disabilities Act says all businesses that serve the general public must allow service animals to accompany people with disabilities.

“She should be prosecuted because she knew the law and she knew the outcome if she did break those laws,” Jones said.

Jones said he hopes his story will serve as a lesson, not just for Uber drivers, but all companies who come in contact with a service animal.

“Education is a good start. A well-educated society is a better society all the way around,” he said.