FILE - DoorDash

FILE - The DoorDash app is shown on a smartphone.

(The Center Square) – Uber Eats, Postmates and DoorDash have settled with Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for allegations of race-based price discrimination. 

The food delivery companies started waving delivery fees for restaurants owned by Black individuals last summer. 

In November of 2020, the Civil Rights Division of Brnovich’s office took legal action against the three companies on the grounds of public accommodations discrimination based on race. The charges alleged that the offer to waive delivery fees for restaurants owned by Black individuals violated the Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA) by unlawfully discriminating against non-Black-owned restaurants and their patrons.

A spokesperson for UberEats told The Center Square that the promotion ran from June 2020 through the end of the year, in line with a commitment made by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a letter to consumers that summer. 

In a statement to The Center Square, Uber said that they were “proud to have supported Black-owned businesses” and will “continue to make it a priority.”

“We have heard loud and clear from consumers that the ability to easily identify Black-owned restaurants on UberEats is a feature they want and appreciate," they said.

DoorDash spokesperson Taylor Bennett noted the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color in a statement. 

“Furthering the long tradition of public and private sector efforts to break down barriers, DoorDash is proud to support Black-owned businesses and honored to do our part to lift up those who need it most,” Bennett said.

Though denying wrongdoing, they look forward to moving past the charges. 

“We’re ready to put this dispute behind us and return our focus to enabling equitable access to the merchants, Dashers, and customers we serve. We all have an obligation to elevate and support underrepresented communities, and we look forward to continuing to do so in Arizona and beyond,” he said.

The food delivery companies are no longer allowed to offer financial incentives, advertise, or provide a delivery fee or price-related discounts to customers in Arizona on account of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or ancestry. As part of the agreement, the companies must inform their agents and employees of the change, no longer engage in discrimination or retaliation and provide their employees with anti-discrimination training. 

DoorDash referenced statistics demonstrating that Black-owned businesses lost 50% of their revenue in early 2020, with more than a 40% closure rate, as well as unemployment for Black Americans nearing double-digits. 

They noted that Arizona pursues initiatives and programs that benefit businesses owned by Black individuals, including the Arizona Department of Transportation(ADOT) and the City of Phoenix. 

Brnovich said that regardless of good intentions, the practice of price discrimination is illegal in Arizona. 

“Even with the best of intentions, corporations can do the wrong thing. Altering the price of goods or services based on race is illegal,” he said in a statement. “My office opened these investigations and pursued these settlements to protect civil rights and ensure businesses offer their services and products based on equal and neutral criteria.”