Uber will no longer silence victims of sexual assault

Uber ends policy of forced arbitration for individual sexual assault claims		
		
	Natasha Lomas

       @	   
   	7 hours

Uber, which has faced a number of claims involving sexual assault or misconduct, said in a statement it "will no longer require mandatory arbitration for individual claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by Uber riders, drivers or employees". Along with the ending of forced arbitration agreements, Uber also says that it plans to release a report about the sexual harassment and assault incidents that occur during use of its services, yet no date for that report has been announced. Uber was also accused of stealing trade secrets and covering up a massive data breach.

Jeanne Christensen, a Wigdor partner, congratulated Uber for shedding the arbitration policy, a move she said "will begin a process to reduce future suffering by women passengers".

But a CNN investigation found at least 103 Uber drivers in the USA who had been accused of sexual assault or harassment by passengers over the past four years. The report left open the possibility that countless more incidents existed, as sexual assault cases often go unreported.

It may also spur more complaints.

Finally, West said the company would "commit" to publishing a "safety transparency report", as a way to "turn the lights on" against this scourge. "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".

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Prior to the announcement, Uber's terms of service required all allegations of this nature against drivers to be arbitrated outside of court.

The company says it will lean on hired advisors such as Ebony Tucker of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Cindy Southworth of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Tina Tchen, a founder of the New York Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.

And the company gained a reputation for sexism a year ago after a viral blog post from a former engineer, according to The Washington Post.

Uber is shifting its stance after receiving an open letter from the NY law firm Wigdor LLP, which already has filed a lawsuit seeking to be certified as a class action representing women who allege they have been raped, sexually harassed or abused in other ways by Uber drivers.

Following CNN's investigation and the letter, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from CT, challenged Uber's use of forced arbitration and in a letter to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi "respectfully requested" the company end the practice. "What's most important is for individual survivors to be able to tell their individual stories".

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