Science

Uber is done demanding silence on sexual harassment

Uber is done demanding silence on sexual harassment

Previously, the company required arbitration for any individual claims by Uber riders, drivers or employees.

Popular ride-hailing service Uber will give its US passengers and drivers more leeway to pursue claims of sexual misconduct in its latest attempt to shed its reputation for brushing aside bad behavior.

"We think it is very, very important to allow survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment the control and agency that was, frankly, stripped from them in that incident", Uber's chief legal officer, Tony West, told CNN in a phone interview.

An April 2018 CNN search of police and court records in 20 major United States cities found that 103 Uber drivers had been accused of sexual assault over the previous four years; 31 drivers had been convicted and dozens of others faced criminal and civil cases at the time. "So we're making it clear that Uber will not require confidentiality provisions or non-disclosure agreements to prevent survivors from talking about the facts of what happened to them".

In a statement, the ride-hailing company said the last 18 months exposed a "silent epidemic of sexual assault and harassment" that Uber "is not immune to".

In April, 14 women who have accused Uber drivers of sexually assaulting them wrote a letter to the companys board, urging it to waive the arbitration agreement and allow them to proceed with a lawsuit in open court. West added, "I want to thank (CNN) for the reporting that you've done on this issue". As with the arbitration change, this will apply to cases now pending and cases moving forward. Hearings have the trappings of a court hearing-arbitrators are often retired judges-except that they are wholly private.

CNN did not include most of these complaints in its tally of cases because they could not all be verified with incident reports. "They understand how their reputation will suffer if consumers perceive them as using arbitration to hide bad behavior".

West said the company struggled with the decision to commit to a safety transparency report for its rides, because he knows that it will be "disturbing" when the actual number of assaults that happen on Uber is announced? in part because of the companys size and the ease with which customers can report an incident. "Enabling survivors to make this choice will help to end the culture of silence that surrounds sexual violence".

Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer whose blog post drove Uber to address sexual harassment within the company's corporate workforce, is fighting on the workplace issue more broadly in California. That means victims who wish to file lawsuits about harassment will still have to do so individually, and will still not be able to bring a case on behalf of many plaintiffs.


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