Really? You think it's more likely that their competitors have made up junk stories, than a company which has a known public history of ignoring rules and regulations, is breaking more rules and regulations?
If you have IP that you know a non profit is using without an explicit licence, you do not have to "go after them" - you own the IP and if you feel they're a worthy cause worth supporting, offer them "support" in the form of a no cost licence for your IP.
> View this from the position of a business with investors they're beholden to
I'm pretty sure even the most vindictive of VC investors can't compel a startup to break the law "because profits".
Yes, you do. Accessibility laws generally include exemptions for small businesses. The Americans with Disabilities Act definitely does. Title III goes out of its way to only require "reasonable accommodation" that is "readily achievable" and not overly burdensome to the small business.
The post I replied to was talking about the "startup community," so I was addressing that. A startup isn't breaking the law by not having the same level of accessibility as a large company. Uber has 2000 employees (excluding the drivers); they definitely wouldn't qualify.
In New York, there are thousands of wheelchair accessible taxis ( http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/passenger/accessible.shtml ), but there are also thousands of taxis that aren't wheelchair accessible. The ones that aren't accessible aren't breaking the ADA (then again, the ADA requires "reasonable accomodation," so the ones that aren't wheelchair accessible probably still have to make an effort to put a wheelchair in the trunk, if requested).
Black cabs are more accessible by default, but I'd assume if I called ahead for any taxi I'd need to let them know of any special needs, the same as if I needed to let them know I wanted a taxi for 7 people?
Shouldn't there be an area for adding special requests such as accessibility? You filter to the vehicles that are able and willing to take this passenger's money.
I can only assume that, as contracted drivers, they have to worry about scratches that may be caused by loading and unloading wheelchairs? Am I overlooking some kind of personal discrimination expecting people to be better?
The point here is that no special accommodation is required!!! The subject's chair fits anywhere a second passenger or a large suitcase would go. These two drivers didn't even want to try, and the second driver harassed her all the way to the airport, even after she put her chair in the car herself.
As far as I can tell, Uber's argument is that its drivers are independent contractors, and if anybody's breaking the law it's the drivers and not Uber (because, frankly, that's always Uber's argument).
Taxis are also independent contractors. Not every taxi cab must be wheelchair accessible to comply with the ADA. Therefore it stands to reason that Uber's drivers don't necessarily need to modify their cars to comply with the ADA. I will concede that Uber drivers have a requirement to make a reasonable accomodation for disabled passengers.
It still isn't established if Uber's drivers really are independent contractors. But if they are, I don't see how Uber is in violation of the ADA. Individual drivers may well be. And Uber will need to sort things out if it expects people to continue to sign up as drivers.
> As far as I can tell, Uber's argument is that its drivers are independent contractors, and if anybody's breaking the law it's the drivers and not Uber (because, frankly, that's always Uber's argument).
I have a fun experiment. Let's ask the IRS if Uber's drivers truly are "independent contractors" as they argue, despite the regulations they impose on drivers which are surprisingly close to regulations you'd impose on an employee.
It happens all the time. And often the parent company is trying to avoid taxes (well, in theory the amount of taxes stays the same, it's just a question of who pays and who keeps the records). In this case, Uber's also trying to avoid learning about and complying with local, state and federal regulations (and, so far, they've been successful).
I doubt it. But anybody can tell the IRS that they believe a person or company isn't paying their full share of taxes. I suspect that the IRS would prioritize complaints from, say, disgruntle corporate accountants, but it should be possible for anybody to report what they believe is tax fraud.
The IRS probably already knows about Uber. They probably haven't audited the company or asked for details, but they must be vaguely aware of how the company operates.
Uber is clearly the one provisioning the service to the customer, and is a large company. The drivers are contractors who do work for Uber, not for the customer. The customer pays Uber, Uber pays the driver. Uber is the car service, and must support its disabled customers.
> "startup" isn't a synonym for "I am above the law!"
It kinda is. Hear me out.
Commerce is bound to be political. Offering up a product or service for sale isn't always going to be acceptable to everyone. So we pass laws to tell people what they can and can't do. So far, so good.
Except that if this continues, the business landscape changes due to the collective weight of all these laws. Existing organizations that understand the growing burden of the necessary law that has to be complied with are eventually the only entities that can do business.
There needs to be some mechanism to operate in the opposite direction, to deprecate laws and allow smaller companies, who don't have the operational capacity to obey every single law that's ever been passed, to do business.
Law is an imperfect instrument, it remains imperfect no matter how much social good it does, it never foresees all the different ways that society can evolve. The startup, the small, scrappy player that seeks out market opportunities and creates businesses out of them, has to be willing to break laws, has to be willing to believe in itself and its ability to help society evolve.
Small economic actors have always played this role in society, there's nothing magic about Silicon Valley-style startups in this regard.
They do. Law enforcement resources are hopelessly and perpetually under-allocated. One can fly under the radar for a long, long time, so long as they don't start openly and flagrantly beg the "long" arm of the law to pay attention to them.
If you're both an under-privileged minority and you live in a heavily-policed area, this may not apply to you. But everyone else can operate based on a pragmatic assessment of the likelihood of getting caught.
Start a business that violates the law, so long as it's not one that invites the cops to bust through your doors, (i.e. drugs) your ability to operate will rest on society's judgment.
"Should be allowed" is language that hinges on a belief that the law is an inviolate arbiter of right and wrong. It is not. Crowd-sourced judgment is that arbiter. The law is just that arbiter's proxy.
That's not the right question to ask. The right question is whether we think Uber is innovative enough to change the laws for.
You've got your thinking backwards. It's not us that has to conform to the law, it's the law that has to conform to us. The right thing to do, IMO, is to make Uber conform to disability law, and do away with the other laws that seem to be doing nothing at this point besides protecting rents, like the taxi medallion system.
There are also other questions like whether we should consider Uber drivers to be employees or contractors. Any decently innovative startup will raise lots of these questions. Uber does just that.
Of course, it would require too much political capital to just do away with the taxi medallion system at this point. So we have to tolerate the grey state of affairs until the legal and political issues are wrangled.
Uber deserves to be rightly rich for being pioneers in this space.
> predicated on the violation of transportation and disability laws.
You forgot labor laws.
I'm sorry you feel that way. I've attempted to lay out a rationale from as close to first principles as I can reasonably approach for the right relationship startups should have with the law and society and you've ignored it out of disgust.
No alternatives given for fixing the problems that legislation engenders for commerce, just irrational hatred.
there are many related fundamental rules, like "everyone is considered a dick by someone" and "you're a dick if you blame a group for the actions of a few."
mainly, though, none of these are actually rules because your subjective notion of what being a dick means isn't transferable outside of your head, even if it really, really feels like your opinions are right.
But going the other way hinders progress in the name of very few people (if any) who may benefit from this kind of measures in very early stages. When the company gets a broad audience, then it becomes a concern.
And since the founders have growth in mind anyway, they'll be sure to make it possible to implement the measures later on (or they'll pay the price in court, either way all is well).
If i'm building an MVP I might not even fully support all of the popular browsers, let alone the correct standards for screen readers, and my page layout will probably break if you increase the font size. Similarly my website is probably only in one language.
(I'm not sure what my point is... I'm just thinking out loud.)
The Internet's a bit different, it's more of a virtual wild west... at least it used to be. If your service has a real world presence and you cut corners then you're more likely to bother someone - especially if you want to be ubiquitous.
That the .org TLD is open to anyone is a shame, and that it's used like this is even worse.
I know it will probably be an unpopular view here, but I actually quite like the approaches taken by Australia (where I grew up) and Thailand (where I live and run my business now)
In Australia you have to be a registered non-profit to get a .org.au domain, and you have to have an ABN or ACN to get a .com.au or .net.au. In the case of commercial domains, while it isn't checked at registration, if your domain name isn't somehow related to your company/brand name, (or even if it is and you aren't using it actively) you can lose it.
In Thailand, your .co.th domain name must match your company name - e.g. if you have HappyHamburger Co., Ltd, you can only register happyhamburger.co.th - this means new companies don't need to rush out and make sure they get the domain matching their company name (or even that it might be taken) to prevent squatters.