Uber, Lyft will let customers take sexual assault claims to court

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

"The last 18 months have exposed a silent epidemic of sexual assault and harassment that haunts every industry and every community", Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post on Uber's website.

An Uber investigation at the time resulted in the firing of about 20 people, and former Attorney General Eric Holder said the male-dominated company didn't have basic policies to protect against harassment.

Uber's ride-hailing service will give its US passengers and drivers more leeway to pursue claims of sexual misconduct, its latest attempt to shed its reputation for brushing aside bad behavior. Riders, passengers, and employees in the US will now have the option of taking the company to court, or going through a mediator where confidentiality is optional. This could be anywhere from arbitration to mediation or an open court setting. It will publish a safety transparency report that will include data on sexual assaults and other incidents. This move comes two weeks after CNN published a report that found at least 103 Uber drivers in the USA have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the last four years.

If an Uber passenger complained about being sexually assaulted or harassed by a driver, the company previously had a policy that required a mandatory arbitration meeting before making a decision.

Ride-share apps Uber and Lyft will no longer bar customers from taking them to court over sex-assault claims, the companies announced Tuesday.

Uber's sexist policies within their company, as well as their bad habit of hiring drivers that have a tendency to sexually assault their customers have always been public knowledge. "We think they're going to be disturbing because it is never easy to report sexual assault". West included, "I wish to thank (the reporter) for the reporting that you have actually done on this problem". "We need to end the practice of forced arbitration, a legal loophole companies use to cover up their illegal treatment of employees". The company said on Tuesday it will release data on the number of sexual assaults on its service.

Following the reporter's examination 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 asked for" the business end the practice. Those alleging assault who wish to be part of a class action suit are still bound by the arbitration clause.

In addition to restricting class-action suits, Uber will still force users to keep certain settlement terms-for example, how much money they may or may not receive from Uber-confidential. She signed up with California legislators in April to present a state expense that would prohibit forced arbitration.

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