Ridesharing company Uber has agreed to stop forcing victims of sexual assault during Uber rides into arbitration.
Uber has agreed to change their terms of service which previously required Uber passengers that were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers to enter arbitration, CNN reports. The company will now allow victims to choose the venue in which they wish to address sexual assault allegations, whether that be in open court, mediation or arbitration. This sudden change to Uber’s terms of service comes just two weeks after an investigation revealed that over the past four years, 103 Uber drivers in the United States alone have been accused of sexual misconduct.
Uber’s Chief Legal Officer, Tony West, told CNN in a statement: “We think it is very, very important to allow survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment the control and agency that was, frankly, stripped from them in that incident. I want to thank (CNN) for the reporting that you’ve done on this issue.” West joined Uber in October 2017 after previously serving as associate attorney general during the Obama administration.
West further stated:
It’s only by accounting and acknowledging [reports] that we are empowered to take action in reducing the incidents of sexual assault. We want to bring these numbers out in the open. We want people to acknowledge the enormity of the issue, and we want us to begin to think of constructive ways to prevent and end sexual assault.
Uber has a long history of alleged misconduct surrounding not just their drivers but their own company employees. The company has faced multiple sexual harassment lawsuits and an investigation that saw as many as 20 Uber employees fired from the company and another 31 placed in counseling. Shortly after this, Uber’s then-President of Business in the Asia Pacific, Eric Alexander, was fired for sharing the medical records of a customer in India who was raped by her driver in 2014. Alexander reportedly obtained the victim’s medical records while in India and shared them with CEO Travis Kalanick and V.P. of Business Emil Michael.
In December of 2017, an Uber driver was arrested and charged with the rape of a 16-year-old girl. The attacker was named as Abdoulie Jagne of College Park, Georgia. In November of 2017, an Uber driver in the Dallas Fort-Worth area allegedly sexually assaulted a 77-year-old passenger during an Uber trip. On the evening of October 22, 40-year-old driver Hashem Ramezanpour picked up an unnamed 77-year-old woman from a church in Dallas and allegedly stopped the car in a wooded area, ordered the woman to get out, and sexually assaulted her.
Breitbart News has reported on a number of these incidents. Uber-related incidents seem to happen on a frequent basis, the company has also been fined for consistently hiring drivers with criminal histories. In November of 2017, the Public Utilities Commission of Colorado fined the ride-sharing company $8.9 million after it was discovered that the company had hired multiple drivers with serious criminal pasts. Colorado officials claimed that as many as 57 Uber drivers had been operating in the state over the course of a year despite having felony convictions or major moving convictions. Some of the drivers were even driving passengers around the city despite having a revoked or canceled driver’s license.
Uber reportedly has plans to release data on sexual assaults and other criminal incidents relating to their service. Tony West stated:
I will tell you that, when this data is actually published as part of the safety transparency report, I think those numbers are going to be disturbing. Once people know we’re counting and we’re paying attention then what is a vastly unreported crime today will become more reported — and that’s a good thing.