Uber Agrees to Allow Sexual Assault Victims to Sue in Court
Uber said it will let sexual assault and harassment victims sue the company in court and plans to release data on sexual violence and other dangerous incidents that occur on its ride-hailing service, according to Bloomberg.
Previously, Uber’s terms of service barred sexual assault victims, and other potential litigants, from pursuing their claims against Uber in open court, redirecting their cases to private arbitration. Now, in the U.S., the company is waiving the requirement for these victims. They will still be free to opt for arbitration or mediation if they prefer to resolve the matter privately.
Uber will still seek to enforce other types of litigants to engage behind closed doors. And like other complainants, sexual assault victims will continue to be barred by the terms of service from banding together to bring class-action lawsuits against the company.
Fourteen women are attempting to sue Uber over sexual assaults and harassment they faced from drivers. The women, represented by law firm Wigdor, made a direct appeal to Uber’s board in a letter last month, asking directors to waive the company’s mandatory arbitration and anti-class action provisions. Uber board member Arianna Huffington told Bloomberg that Uber board was weighing how to respond.
The company’s new rules allow victims to fight their cases in court but only one at a time. If this approach survives court challenges, it could limit the potential payout for lawyers and damages that Uber could face. Despite the company’s change in position, the move won’t necessarily deter class-action suits.
Uber has faced questions about how often its drivers assault or harass passengers. In April, a CNN investigation identified more than 100 Uber drivers accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the past four years. The company said it will release data on the number of sexual assaults on its service. Uber expects to publish both total figures and the number of incidents as a percentage of total trips.