Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Uber stops forcing sex assault, harassment victims into arbitration

US-AVIATION-SCIENCE-TRANSPORTATION Uber is changing how it handles assault claims. Robyn Beck AFP Getty Images
Sandy Nunez | 15 May, 2018, 22:18

The rideshare company said Tuesday it will no longer force passengers who allege that they have been sexually assaulted or harassed by drivers into arbitration - something Uber says was previously required under its terms of service.

Popular ride-hailing service Uber will give its US passengers and drivers more leeway to pursue claims of sexual misconduct in its latest attempt to shed its reputation for brushing aside bad behavior.

Key quote from Uber CLO Tony West: "But we have learned it's important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims".

The policy change comes after a recent CNN investigation focusing on the assaut and abuse accusations against drivers. Survivors of sexual misconduct can also settle claims with Uber without having to sign a confidentiality agreement. 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.

In a move mirroring its rival, Lyft no longer will require complaints about sexual assault and harassment be heard in private arbitration, with all settlements remaining confidential.

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"D$3 ivulging the details of what happened in a sexual assault or harassment should be up to the survivor, not us", West said.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN. In March 2018, Uber came under fire after court records showed it had tried to push the women in that case toward individual arbitration. "Enabling survivors to make this choice will help to end the culture of silence that surrounds sexual violence".

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. The company gained a reputation for rampant sexism past year after Susan Fowler, a former engineer, wrote a viral blog post about harassment and retaliation she said she faced on the job.

Uber has to formally decide by Wednesday whether it will require the women in the proposed class action suit to carry out their assault claims in forced arbitration. She joined California lawmakers in April to introduce a state bill that would ban forced arbitration. 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.