Uber has announced that if you’re sexually assaulted on an Uber ride, you can now pursue your claim in court and talk about it publicly rather than being forced into an arbitration process stacked in the company’s favor and involving a non-disclosure agreement. Big of them, don’t you think? And all it took was sustained pressure, culminating in a public letter signed by 14 women sexually assaulted by Uber drivers:
“Silencing our stories deprives customers and potential investors from the knowledge that our horrific experiences are part of a widespread problem at Uber,” the women wrote. “This is not doing the ‘right thing,’” they said, alluding to the company’s new motto: “We do the right thing. Period.”
The letter drew widespread media coverage, including over the issue of forced arbitration. The app’s terms of service require any rider with a complaint against the company, even of sexual assault, to commit to arbitration, essentially private courtrooms where a company typically has the edge in any litigation.
If, however, you were assaulted in a non-sexual way by your Uber driver (or passenger, or on the job at the company), you’re out of luck. You’ll still have to do that forced arbitration process in which you have little chance at prevailing. And even if you were sexually assaulted, you can only sue as an individual—no class actions allowed. And if you previously signed a non-disclosure agreement, it’s still binding.
But hey, baby steps! Uber will also release data on such incidents as part of a larger safety report.
Lyft quickly followed Uber’s lead on ending forced arbitration.
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