Ridesharing giant Uber has announced that it will no longer require its USA riders, drivers, and/or employees to resort to arbitration to resolve claims of sexual assault and harassment. And the firm said it will begin publishing a "safety transparency report" on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on its platform.
Under the new policy, victims of sexual assault and harassment will be able to choose how to pursue their claims - arbitration, mediation, or open court.
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.
West said he expected the number of reported assaults to increase in the first six to nine months after reporting the initial figures because "people will see that we are paying attention, that we are counting, that we looking to act on this data and that will encourage more reporting". 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.
And while the move serves to promote safety and aid the company's reputation, it could also lead to more complaints. Four police departments - Austin, Boston, Denver and Los Angeles - tracked crimes involving rideshare drivers and shared their data on sexual assault complaints. That includes investigations into the possible use of illegal software to monitor competitors and even disrupt efforts to regulate the ride-sharing service. It didn't say how often it would publish that report. Now, customers can take those claims to court or join a class-action lawsuit, the company said. "Enabling survivors to make this choice will help to end the culture of silence that surrounds sexual violence".
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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.
Uber's arbitration policy had previously been challenged in lawsuits, according to CNN.
The move comes after reports surfaced revealing at least 100 Uber drivers in the US had been accused of sexually assaulting passengers in recent years, including one recent case in which a driver followed a female passenger after reaching her home and tried to force himself into her apartment.
That new direction includes ending the use of forced arbitration agreements. Not long after he took the job late a year ago, he wrote his own blog post in which he proclaimed: "We do the right thing".