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15 November 2017, 01:08 | Hattie Nash
Uber Sex Assault Class Action Filed by 2 Women
"As alleged, if Uber is committed to safe rides for all consumers, including women, it needs to make drastic changes to prevent rapes, sexual assaults and gender-motivated harassment that occur on a regular basis in cities throughout the U.S".
The plaintiffs' legal team hopes to have the claim certified as a class action, in order to represent all those who have experienced sexual harassment and assault from Uber drivers. "These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously", an Uber spokesperson said.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses Uber of repeatedly fighting efforts to improve customer safety in states across the country and names MA and Maryland as examples where its failures to adequately screen drivers were allegedly exposed. "Period." The ride sharing company said the specifics of the allegations are being reviewed.
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In Massachusetts, more than 8,000 Uber and Lyft drivers failed state screening despite passing Uber and rival Lyft's background checks, according to the suit.
The two women say Uber's background checks are inadequate and the company has misrepresented how safe the service actually is. The company fired 20 employees this year after a wide-ranging investigation into its climate and workplace culture after former employee Susan Fowler detailed how her sexual harassment complaints were ignored by management and human resources employees for a year - and reports abounded about widespread sexual harassment at the company.
It cites the #MeToo campaign, which emerged on social media following the harassment charges made by numerous women against film mogul Harvey Weinstein, for prompting "hundreds, if not thousands" of female passengers to implicate Uber drivers in tweets reporting sexual assaults. In June, Uber's board of directors forced CEO Travis Kalanick to resign.
However, the case hinges on issues the ride-hail company, which is no stranger to legal battles, has long fought across the globe: Background checks and being treated like other for-hire companies.
But this complaint wants to re-litigate both those issues. That lawsuit alleged that Uber mishandled the incident and that company executives improperly accessed her medical records because it doubted her account of the incident. It is time for Uber to "Do the right thing".
Uber, however, insisted that only 170 of those had claims of sexual assault and that the rest may have been "reports from riders who were making claims about sexual assault on other transport services, discussions about sexual assaults in the news, and reports about passengers who got into cars that were not Uber vehicles and were then sexually assaulted". The lawsuit is asking the court to force Uber to change the way it screens drivers and be more transparent about what it knows in regard to alleged sexual assaults by its drivers.
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