Uber faces class-action lawsuit over sexual assault by drivers

Earning marginal revenue products

Earning marginal revenue products

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California on Tuesday, is on behalf of women passengers who experienced "rape, sexual assault, physical violence or gender-motivated harassment" by Uber drivers.

The complaint, filed in a United States district court in San Francisco, California, today seeks damages, stricter screening for drivers, insurance coverage for riders, and disclosure of the number of reports Uber has received about rapes, sexual assaults and gender-related harassment. This is no longer an issue of "rogue" drivers who act unlawfully.

For a detailed account of Uber's background check policies, read the Recode piece.

One plaintiff was assaulted by an Uber driver in Los Angeles after she fell asleep in the backseat. "These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously".

A handful of states, including California, Massachusetts and Texas, have previously launched investigations into Uber, claiming it routinely fails to adequately screen drivers and has hired drivers with criminal histories.

The suit accuses Uber of creating "a system for bad actors to gain access to vulnerable victims".

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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.

Uber, along with Lyft, in fact left Austin in 2015 after the city council approved an ordinance that required the companies to use fingerprint-based background checks for their drivers. The suit cites numerous cases of rape, violence and sexual assault- along with screening lapses in Maryland and MA - as evidence of its claim that Uber has prioritized profits over the safety of its passengers.

"Court orders are needed to force change that Uber should have taken voluntarily", it says.

The women are requesting damages for their own alleged assaults along with an injunction against the company that would require it to conduct more rigorous background checks on its drivers and change other company practices.

Uber has been beleaguered by dozens of issues over the previous year. The two women say their Uber drivers assaulted them in two separate incidents, according to court documents. In June, CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from Uber, following criticism that he helped foster a culture of sexism and bullying at the company. 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".

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