Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Money | By Wilma Wheeler

Uber changes policy on sexual-misconduct claims, allowing victims to pursue charges

Uber changes policy on sexual-misconduct claims, allowing victims to pursue charges

Uber will no longer require its USA riders, drivers, or employees to forcefully arbitrate individual claims of sexual assault or harassment, chief legal officer Tony West announced. West and Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi took over late a year ago and have attempted to turn the company around.

Arbitration clauses have played a role in high-profile settlements involving film mogul Harvey Weinstein and others, enabling accusations and settlements to be made in secret.

The rideshare business stated Tuesday it will not push into arbitration travelers who declare that they have actually been sexually attacked or bugged by motorists- something Uber states was formerly needed under its regards to service. "So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer: in a mediation where they can choose confidentiality; in arbitration, where they can choose to maintain their privacy while pursuing their case; or in open court". Lyft has also dropped a confidentiality agreement requirement and says it will release a safety report on its platform. But she said in a written statement Tuesday that Uber continues to fight against class-action status for the 14 women she represents, showing it is "not fully committed to meaningful change" because victims are more likely to pursue claims as part of a group.

"There's no question that Uber has a unique relationship to the issue of sexual harassment in particular because of Susan Fowler's blog", said Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer.

Back in February 2017, a former Uber engineer penned a personal essay about the sexual harassment she faced at the company. And in the midst of the #MeToo movement, advocates have singled out these stipulations as tools used to stifle women's stories of sexual harassment and assault. The policy change will affect riders, drivers and employees, the company says.

" I will inform you that, when this information is really released as part of the security openness report, I believe those numbers are going to be disturbing", stated West.

The news came one day ahead of a court-mandated due date for Uber to react in a proposed class action suit submitted by law practice Wigdor LLP on behalf of 9 females implicating motorists of sexual assault.

"It starts with improving our product and policies, but it requires so much more, and we're in it for the long haul", West concluded in the post.

Jeanne Christensen, the Wigdor lawyer working on the class-action suit, told Reuters the move was "one step toward making a change", but that "just bringing the issue into the open doesn't solve the problem". Last month, Khosrowshahi said Uber would more closely monitor driver backgrounds.

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