PA’s Human Relations Commission asks federal court to throw out lawsuit made by Uber

07 December 2023- On Wednesday, November 22, 2023, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Uber Technologies, Inc. against a former Driver who filed a complaint with the PHRC against Uber alleging discrimination due to Uber’s overly-broad criminal background check procedures.

Uber petitioned the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to direct the PHRC complainant to withdraw the complaint from PHRC and instead address the alleged violations of Pennsylvania law via arbitration.

“The PHRC is arguing that its administrative complaints, similar to charges of discrimination filed with the EEOC, are exempt from coverage under the Federal Arbitration Act,” said PHRC Chief Counsel Meredith Millard, Esq. “The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized on multiple occasions that anti-discrimination charges filed with administrative agencies like the EEOC and the PHRC cannot be subject to arbitration agreements.” 

“This federal lawsuit undermines the integrity and authority of the PHRC,” said PHRC Executive Director Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW. “Forcing the complainant to pursue arbitration denies the complainant the justice they deserve. It also interferes with the Commission’s ability to investigate systematic discrimination. Complainants have the right to file a complaint and pursue an investigation through a neutral and independent entity and the PHRC has the legal authority to investigate claims of discrimination. Allowing this lawsuit from Uber would have a negative effect on all Pennsylvanians searching for justice. We will fight this lawsuit and any others like it.”

PHRC staff attorney John Brubaker is litigating the case along with Chief Counsel Millard.

PHRC, the state’s leading civil rights enforcement agency, urges anyone who has experienced acts of discrimination or hate to file a complaint with the PHRC by calling 717-787-4410.  Information and resources are also available at www.PHRC.pa.gov