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16 May 2018, 12:41 | Lionel James
Uber Eliminates Forced Arbitration for Sex Misconduct Claims
Uber competitor Lyft says it will no longer force victims of sexual assault into arbitration.
"They're saying this case and these claims belong in private arbitration because on the app and embedded deep in the terms of services is a requirement for people to agree to private arbitration", she said. As per Uber's terms of service that exists today, passengers relinquish their right to pursue any claims against Uber in open court when they sign up as a rider.
The company's change in how it handles these matters reflects a deliberate corporate decision to contribute toward a more outspoken, open culture of speaking out against sexual abuse and end what has always been a culture of corporate silence around such matters across industries. "Whether to find closure, seek treatment, or become advocates for change themselves, survivors will be in control of whether to share their stories".
In addition, it will release a "security openness report" that will put numbers behind sexual assaults and other events that happen on its platform. ("We were very gratified to see Lyft making changes to their own arbitration policy in the wake of Uber'sannouncement, and we applaud them-you always hope others will follow when staking out a leadership position", West told me in response.) Uber had a good incentive to do what other tech companies hadn't-it was already in the doghouse, the subject of its own hashtag and a boycott campaign that kicked off a cascade of near-catastrophic woes.
The upheaval in Uber's leadership was prompted in large part by one woman, Susan Fowler, who publicly shared her story about experiencing egregious sexual harassment at Uber and reporting it, repeatedly, to managers and human resources reps who dismissed her concerns and threatened retaliation. This move comes two weeks after CNNpublished a report that found at least 103 Uber drivers in the USA have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the last four years. The San Francisco based ride-hailing company confirms that it's ending the use of forced arbitration agreements for employees, riders, and drivers.
The business will not need privacy as part of settlement arrangements in claims referring to sexual assault or harassment. 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. "This is the beginning of a longer process needed to meaningfully improve safety". Dara Khosrowshahi has been taking steps to address the company's issues. The changes governing sexual misconduct come a month after Uber announced it will do criminal background checks on its US drivers annually and add a 911 button for summoning help in emergencies.
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