Uber ends mandatory arbitration for sexual assault, harassment claims

15 May 2018, 10:17 | Shawn Tate

Giving victims of sexual assault or perceived sexual harassment more options sends an important message that Uber is taking the issue more seriously, said Kristen Houser, a spokeswoman for Raliance, a coalition of groups working with Uber to prevent sexual abuse on its service.

Ridesharing giant Uber has announced that it will no longer require its U.S. riders, drivers, and/or employees to resort to arbitration to resolve claims of sexual assault and harassment. Second, the company has also pledged to "eventually" release a report with data on sexual harassment and assault incidents that have occurred on its services.

"So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer: in a mediation where they can choose confidentiality; in arbitration, where they can choose to maintain their privacy while pursuing their case; or in open court", West wrote on the company's blog.

The move to end forced arbitration marks a major shift for the company, which has faced a stream of misconduct allegations in recent months. "We want to bring these numbers out in the open". 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.

It may also spur more complaints. That would include rides and deliveries, as well as incidents that happen before pickup or after drop-off.

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West said the company struggled with the decision to commit to a safety transparency report for its rides, because he knows that it will be "disturbing" when the actual number of assaults that happen on Uber is announced? in part because of the companys size and the ease with which customers can report an incident.

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". Even worse for consumers is that in the world of arbitration, there is no possibility of class-action claims.

Uber's arbitration policy had previously been challenged in lawsuits, according to CNN.

Beyond Uber, there's been a push to cut back on the use of forced arbitration by employers. The company gained a reputation for rampant sexism a year ago after Susan Fowler, a former engineer, wrote a viral blog post about harassment and retaliation she said she faced on the job.



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