Uber to Stop Forcing Sexual Assault Victims into Arbitration

15 May, 2018, 22:35 | Author: Darren Santiago
  • Tony West now Uber's chief legal officer back in 2014 when he worked in the Justice Department under Eric Holder

Previously, the company required arbitration for any individual claims by Uber riders, drivers or employees.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the move was "an important step forward in our commitment to safety and transparency".

The policy change comes after a recent CNN investigation focusing on the assaut and abuse accusations against drivers.

Starting immediately, customers with assault claims against Uber drivers will no longer be forced to pursue their cases through arbitration. Along with the ending of forced arbitration agreements, Uber also says that it plans to release a report about the sexual harassment and assault incidents that occur during use of its services, yet no date for that report has been announced.

Not to be outdone, Lyft announced Tuesday it would also scrap its rules binding passengers and drivers to private arbitration and confidential settlements in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct. The company also stated it would allow them to settle claims without a confidentiality provision, which previously stopped them from "speaking about the facts of the sexual assault or sexual harassment they suffered", West wrote.

The changes governing sexual misconduct come a month after Uber announced it will do criminal background checks on its US drivers annually and add a 911 button for summoning help in emergencies. As with the arbitration change, this will apply to cases now pending and cases moving forward.

Now, riders can take sexual harassment or assault claims to the venue of their choosing, according to CNN. The report left open the possibility that countless more incidents existed, as sexual assault cases often go unreported. That includes court proceedings like class-action lawsuits and other methods like mediation. Uber is mandated to respond by Wednesday. One victim was attacked by a serial rapist who assaulted his passenger and 8 other women; another was an elderly woman who was beaten and raped; one victim says her driver forced her to drink his urine. Uber said the women will now have the choice of bringing their individual assault claims to arbitration, meditation or open court. That means victims who wish to file lawsuits about harassment will still have to do so individually, and will still not be able to bring a case on behalf of many plaintiffs.

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