Uber changes policies for claims of sexual harassment, assault

Tony West now Uber's chief legal officer back in 2014 when he worked in the Justice Department under Eric Holder

Bloomberg via Getty Images Tony West now Uber's chief legal officer back in 2014 when he worked in the Justice Department under Eric Holder

Uber will no longer make its drivers, customers and employees go through forced arbitration when they lodge sexual assault or harassment claims against the ride-hailing service, the company announced Tuesday.

"So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer".

Uber will still seek to enforce other types of litigants to engage behind closed doors.

Assault and harassment cases are now exempt from that requirement.

Jeanne Christensen, a lawyer at Wigdor LLP who has been handling sexual harassment cases against Uber, agreed with the move.

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Back in February 2017, a former Uber engineer penned a personal essay about the sexual harassment she faced at the company.

It was just one of three changes announced by Chief Legal Officer Tony West, who said that it was part of Uber's new strategy of "transparency, integrity, and accountability". He was hired in August amid a wave of revelations and allegations about rampant sexual harassment in Uber's workforce, a coverup of a big data breach, dirty tricks and stolen trade secrets.

Lyft, a rival auto service, had similar terms of service requiring passengers to use arbitration.

Following CNN's investigation and the letter, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from CT, challenged Uber's use of forced arbitration and in a letter to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi "respectfully requested" the company end the practice. "Leaving it up to individual companies is not likely to change the industry".

There is no openly offered information for the variety of sexual assaults by Uber chauffeurs or motorists of other rideshare business. the reporter's analysis originated from a thorough evaluation of authorities reports, federal court records and county court databases for 20 significant United States cities. Last month, Khosrowshahi said Uber would more closely monitor driver backgrounds.

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This announcement comes a couple of weeks after an investigation found that more than 100 stateside Uber drivers had been accused of sexually assaulting or harassing passengers in the last four years.

Third, we commit to publishing a safety transparency report that will include data on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on the Uber platform. "We desire individuals to acknowledge the enormity of the concern, and we desire us to start to think about positive methods to prevent and end sexual assault".

The data might not be released until early next year.

A spokeswoman for Raliance stated that giving victims of sexual assault more options sends an important message that Uber is taking the issue more seriously. "It is hard even to get companies to say the words sexual assault or rape, let alone incorporate them into the culture and the priorities of the company". With that in mind, we're making some important changes today. However, the numbers suggest that there may be many more overall incidents of sexual assault than the cases found in the investigation.

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