Uber, a transportation company, is being sued in the United Stared by 550 women who were allegedly harassed sexually by drivers on the ride-hailing platform.
The filing includes allegations of women passengers who “were kidnapped, sexually assaulted, sexually battered, raped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed, or otherwise attacked by Uber drivers”.
The filing of this case happened on Wednesday at the San Francisco County Superior Court.
“Sexual assault is a horrific crime and we take every single report seriously. There is nothing more important than safety, which is why Uber has built new safety features. And also established survivor-centric policies, and been more transparent about serious incidents. While we can’t comment on pending litigation, we will continue to keep safety at the heart of our work,” an Uber spokesperson told reporters.
Attorneys at the Slater Slater Schuman law firm filed the complaint alleging that the sexual assaults took place in “multiple states”.
According to the lawsuit, apparently, Uber found out as early as 2014 that its drivers were sexually assaulting and raping females passengers. But it claims that the company prioritized “growth over customer safety”.
“Uber’s whole business model is predicated on giving people a safe ride home. But, rider safety was never their concern – growth was. And this is at the expense of their passengers’ safety,” Adam Slater, founding partner of Slater Slater Schulman, said.
Uber released its second US Safety Report, that showed 998 incidents of sexual assault, including 141 rape reports, in 2020. The company said in the report that it had received a total of 3,824 reports.
This is of the five most severe categories of sexual assault between 2019 and 2020. The most serious categories of sexual assault on the company range from “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part” to “non-consensual sexual penetration,” or rape.
These allegations are an incredibly serious implication and 550 women is an astonishing number to come forward. What makes the lawsuit even more damaging for Uber is they could force it to provide yet more evidence of a toxic culture at the company.
A former Uber executive came forward on Monday with multiple accusations of malpractice. Among the evidence he leaked, that Uber had a ‘kill switch’. They could turn this on if law enforcement came knocking. It would also prevent police from finding information.
Mark MacGann said the leaked documents pointed to a theme – that Uber put growth first above all else.
The lawsuit shows that Uber knowingly concealed knowledge that its drivers have assaulted women sexually. It also reveals that the company didn’t carry out a proper background check on its drivers.
Uber says that the company has changed in recent years and regrets its past behaviour. But with so much bad press, investors worry that people will begin to turn elsewhere for their next ride.
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