Uber (Private:UBER) faces a US class-action lawsuit from riders who allege they were subject to sexual assault or gender-based violence by Uber drivers. "Period." The ride sharing company said the specifics of the allegations are being reviewed. It alleges that Uber markets to young women traveling alone and puts profits over their safety. The complaint cites accounts of assault by Uber drivers shared as part of the #MeToo movement; failures of background checks, including the registration as an Uber driver of the truck driver in the terrorist attack in NY on October 31; the debate over whether Uber drivers are employees of Uber; and misleading advertising from Uber about "safe rides".
An Uber spokesperson said: "Uber received this complaint today and we are in the process of reviewing it".
Reviews of Uber driver applications by two U.S. states, Maryland and MA, have led to rejections of thousands more applications than under Uber's own system.
"Uber made such false representations after failing to screen the drivers in any meaningful way, thereby presenting grave threats to Plaintiffs' safety and well-being", the complaint reads.
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The women are requesting damages for their own alleged assaults along with an injunction against the company that would require it to conduct more rigorous background checks on its drivers and change other company practices.
It's been a tumultuous year for the ridesharing company. That's also the case for its fight to be regulated as a technology company. "This self-serving guise has added to Uber's ability to avoid spending more money on driver screening both before and after hiring, and to avoid regulatory measures directed at safety during ride". That lawsuit alleged that Uber mishandled the incident and that company executives improperly accessed her medical records because it doubted her account of the incident.
The complaint argues that the victims' claims are not affected by arbitration clauses in Uber's terms of service with riders, because under California Supreme Court decisions, "Uber can not cause consumers to waive a statutory right to seek public injunctive relief in any forum". Maryland, too, has conducted background checks on behalf Uber and Lyft and found that not all drivers pass its standards.
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".