Uber along with other ride-hailing services have had plenty issues with sexual assault. In fact, a recent CNN investigation found that at least 103 Uber drivers in the U.S. have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers. It’s a serious problem, which is why the company’s decision to no longer force arbitration to passengers who allege that they have been sexually assaulted or harassed by drivers is such a big deal.
In the wake of the CNN investigation, Uber’s announced decision on Tuesday to no longer insist on arbitration and confidentiality agreements for customers pursuing sexual assault claims against Uber drivers, was essentially a stand the company is taking to no longer silence victims of sexual assault. This is a major shifting in the way they’ve handled sexual assault or harassment cases in the past, which was basically the opposite.
So as of now, any customer with sexual assault claims against Uber drivers will no longer be forced to pursue their cases through arbitration. Instead, they will now have the option of being able to take their case to open court along with no longer being forced to sign nondisclosure agreements.
The #Metoo movement along with Former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler definitely played a role in this new decision too. She published a blog post in 2017 of her own experience with harassment and sexism with the company that eventually went viral and led to the resignation of Uber’s founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick. She also worked alongside California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher to introduce a new bill in the state that would prevent companies from forcing victims to settle a sexual harassment or sexual assault case in arbitration.
Fowler even tweeted a request back in March to new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi about it, who clearly took her suggestion seriously.
Hi Susan! 1. I'm trying and our company is bought in! 2. I will take a look at your suggestion – I will take it seriously but we have to take all of our constituents into consideration. 3. Would love to meet and talk in person vs twitter. 4. Thank you for what you've done.
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) March 30, 2018
The Uber and ride-hailing services sexual harassment and assault incidents have been out of control. In April, a San Diego woman was sexually assaulted by her Uber driver on her ride home. A few weeks before that, a 24-year-old woman from San Francisco was beaten and sexually assaulted by both her driver and a second man who was hiding in the backseat of the car and attacked once she got in. We even spoke to Miami fashion blogger and influencer, Annie Vazquez (Founder of The Fashion Poet and Annie The Alchemist) who almost had a scary experience herself with a Lyft driver who didn’t match the driver on her app but still managed to pull up in front of her house and even called out her name.
It’s about time Uber recognized the seriousness of this issue and is finally taking some action to protect victims.
“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 officer, Tony West, told CNN. “It’s only by accounting and acknowledging [reports] that we are empowered to take action in reducing the incidents of sexual assault. We want to bring these numbers out in the open. We want people to acknowledge the enormity of the issue, and we want us to begin to think of constructive ways to prevent and end sexual assault.”