Uber is done demanding silence on sexual harassment

Joshua Bennett
May 15, 2018

Under its terms of service, Uber previously required individuals who brought sexual assault and harassment allegations to go into arbitration - a controversial practice, because it deprives victims of the opportunity to bring their cases to trial.

Instead, the ride-sharing company will allow victims - including passengers, drivers and employees - to choose the venue in which they want to resolve such claims.

It's a conciliatory step from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Uber was also accused of stealing trade secrets and covering up a massive data breach.

Khosrowshahi has vowed to "do the right thing", fix the damage from previous missteps and lure back alienated riders who defected to rivals such as Lyft.

While applauding Uber for making a "good decision", Lyft also made a veiled reference to the legal pressures that may have contributed to the change.

In November 2017, two women in California filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that Uber's "woefully inadequate background checks" had created a platform that exposed thousands of female passengers to "rape, sexual assault, physical violence, and gender-motivated harassment".

An April 2018 CNN search of police and court records in 20 major United States cities found that 103 Uber drivers had been accused of sexual assault over the previous four years; 31 drivers had been convicted and dozens of others faced criminal and civil cases at the time.

Last month, Uber took another step to earn back customers' trust by announcing that it will start performing criminal background checks on its USA drivers each year. It's an effort to reassure its riders and address concerns that it hadn't done enough to keep crooks from using its service to prey on potential victims. "We have learned it's important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims", he said.

CNN did not include most of these complaints in its tally of cases because they could not all be verified with incident reports.

The firm's behavior prompted a grass-roots campaign urging riders to #DeleteUber, the Times said. West added, "I want to thank (CNN) for the reporting that you've done on this issue".

By the end of the year, Uber will also start to publicly report incidents of alleged sexual misconduct in hopes of establishing more transparency about the issue throughout the ride-hailing and traditional taxi industries.

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