Economy

Recode: Uber faces U.S. class-action suit for driver sexual assault, violence

Recode: Uber faces U.S. class-action suit for driver sexual assault, violence”

Uber has yet another lawsuit on its hands.

Uber (Private:UBER) faces a USA class-action lawsuit from riders who allege they were subject to sexual assault or gender-based violence by Uber drivers.

The complaint contends that Uber is putting thousands of women at risk of being attacked by Uber drivers because the company has prioritized growth over safety. The women further claim the company generally misrepresented the safety of taking an Uber.

In the suit, filed today in U.S. District Court in Northern California, Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 describe being raped by Uber drivers.

"Had Uber not sacrificed passenger safety for the sake of profit and expansion, and actually cared about who it was employing to drive its vehicles, rather than being preoccupied with racing to control its share of the taxi market, at the expense of existing taxi companies and consumers, Plaintiffs herein and proposed Class members would not have been harmed", the complaint says.

The complaint cites accounts of assault by Uber drivers shared as part of the #MeToo movement; failures of background checks, including the registration as an Uber driver of the truck driver in the terrorist attack in NY on October 31; the debate over whether Uber drivers are employees of Uber; and misleading advertising from Uber about "safe rides". Nothing meaningful has been done to make rides safer for passengers - especially women.

We've reached out to Uber and will update when we hear back.

Sayfullo Saipov had been driving with the company for more than six months.

Complaints about the validity of Uber's background checks is nothing new, of course.

In the complaint, the women argue that Uber driver screenings only go back seven years. The company says that is as far back as the law allows it to go, but lawyers for the plaintiffs say that's because the system they use primarily sifts through credit reporting systems.

The company has repeatedly refused to run more robust background checks through fingerprinting, which checks against the FBI's criminal records database. The company was banned from New Delhi in 2014 after a driver allegedly raped one of his passengers.

Uber has been criticized for poorly handling sexual assault and harassment allegations - both within its corporate departments and by drivers - several times in the past years.

"Court orders are needed to force change that Uber should have taken voluntarily", it says.

Uber has always been under fire for its background check methods. Uber has long argued that it's not a transportation provider and its drivers are not employees and so should not be subject to the same requirements. That's also the case for its fight to be regulated as a technology company.

The complaint argues that the victims' claims are not affected by arbitration clauses in Uber's terms of service with riders, because under California Supreme Court decisions, "Uber can not cause consumers to waive a statutory right to seek public injunctive relief in any forum". "Period." That includes divulging how many reports of sexual assault Uber receives and what it does with those reports.

The lawsuit joins a growing list against Uber including a case related to a passenger rape in India and the Uber exec who later unlawfully accessed the victim's medical records.

The lawsuit also gets into other controversies facing Uber.



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