TECHNOLOGY

Uber sued by 500 women for sexual abuse

But is Uber responsible? More than 500 women claim they have been attacked by Uber drivers and have filed a lawsuit in the United States

Ride hailing giant Uber has been sued by 550 women in the United States for sexual assault by drivers.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, alleges the women were subjected to various forms of violence by Uber drivers, ranging from rape and assault to stalking and even kidnapping.

Two weeks ago, the company released its second security report, which revealed that the sexual assault report on the platform was unavailable.

Attack lawsuit

But one complaint was filed on Wednesday by attorneys from Slater Slater Schulman in the San Francisco County Superior Court.

The law firm said it has about 550 clients with claims against the company, with at least 150 more under active investigation.

“As early as 2014, Uber became aware that its drivers were sexually assaulting and raping female passengers; nevertheless, sexual predators driving for Uber have continued to assault passengers in the eight years since, including the plaintiffs whose allegations were made in the current proceedings,” the law firm said.

“Uber’s entire business model is focused on giving people a safe ride home, but rider safety was never their concern — growth came at the expense of passenger safety,” said Adam Slater, founder of Slater Slater Schulman LLP.

“While the company has acknowledged this crisis of sexual assault in recent years, the actual response has been slow and inadequate, with horrific consequences,” Slater claimed.

The attorneys claimed that “Uber’s priority of growth over customer safety — and the resulting horror many of its passengers experience — is well-documented.”

Two weeks ago, Uber said in its second safety report that it received 3,824 reports of the five most serious categories of sexual assault in 2019 and 2020, ranging from “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part” to “non-consensual sexual penetration”. or rape.

Uber said reported sexual assaults were down 38 percent from the original report, which covered 2017 and 2018.

It is unclear at the time of writing whether the Covid-19 pandemic has affected these numbers, due to the dramatic decline in rider numbers in 2020 and 2021.

It should be noted that Uber has introduced a number of safety options in recent years, such as screening drivers at the platform’s login and once a year thereafter.

Still, the company has maintained in lawsuits that it cannot be held responsible for its drivers, whom it considers to be independent contractors rather than employees.

California Agreement

In December last year, Uber agreed to pay $9 million (£6.8 million) in a settlement over its refusal to provide data to California regulators on sexual assault claims, ending a two-year dispute.

Under that deal, the company will commit to report future data on sexual assault, using a unique identification system to protect the identities of those involved.

It said it would create an opt-in process for those who wanted to make more details about an incident available to regulators.

Uber had previously argued that providing details about attacks to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) without the consent of those involved would violate their privacy rights.

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