Uber drivers the focus of class action suit alleging sexual assault

Uber cars appear in San Francisco Calif. in this undated image

Uber cars appear in San Francisco Calif. in this undated image

The lawsuit wants Uber to change how it screens drivers and consider other changes on behalf of the riders.

The two women say Uber's background checks are inadequate and the company has misrepresented how safe the service actually is. But with its growth, the company has come under fire for numerous allegations of drivers committing sexual assaults.

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.

The suit says reports of sexual assault and rape perpetrated by male drivers against female passengers have "sky-rocketed" recently, though it does not provide direct evidence to support the claim.

Concerns about Uber's screening procedures for drivers have dogged the company for a number of years.

The lawsuit is seeking compensation for rapes, assaults, and harassment that riders have experienced - specifically passengers who were "subject to assault or gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver in the last four years".

The suit is the latest blow in a year of controversies for Uber, including allegations of rampant sexual harassment in its workplace. This is no longer an issue of "rogue" drivers who act unlawfully.


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.

In a statement to The Register, an Uber spokesperson said: "Uber received this complaint today and we are in the process of reviewing it". Los Angeles and San Francisco sued the company a couple of years back, alleging that Uber missed criminal records for drivers with serious crimes in their past.

Uber has been beleaguered by dozens of issues over the previous year.

In addition to board room squabbles, Uber's newly minted chief legal officer Tony West will also have to navigate a trade secret battle against Alphabet's self-driving arm in addition to several federal probes into the company's privacy practices. The two women say their Uber drivers assaulted them in two separate incidents, according to court documents.

Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia, was picked to succeed Kalanick in August.

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". One executive who was ousted was about a woman who was raped during an Uber ride in India. The other was raped by an Uber driver in her apartment in Miami. It is time for Uber to "Do the right thing".

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