Uber strikes out confidentiality deal for s3xual assault victims

Uber strikes out confidentiality deal for s3xual assault victims

Uber, acknowledging that "sexual violence remains a huge problem globally", will no longer require sexual assault and harassment victims to go through arbitration, the ride-hailing company said Tuesday.

Instead, the ride-sharing company will allow victims - including passengers, drivers and employees - to choose the venue in which they want to resolve such claims. Uber said the women will now have the choice of bringing their individual assault claims to arbitration, meditation or open court.

Uber also promised to publish a safety transparency report that will put numbers behind sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on its platform.

But a CNN investigation found at least 103 Uber drivers in the US who had been accused of sexual assault or harassment by passengers over the past four years.

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The company will no longer require confidentiality as part of settlement agreements in lawsuits pertaining to sexual assault or harassment.

"We think the numbers are going to be disturbing", said Tony West, a former government prosecutor during the Obama administration who became Uber's chief legal officer after Khosrowshahi took over.

Uber also announced two other policy changes pertaining to sexual assault.

Uber is now facing a class action lawsuit in the United States for poor driver vetting that has led to a series of sexual harassment incidents, including rape.

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Giving victims of sexual assault or perceived sexual harassment more options sends an important message that Uber is taking the issue more seriously, said Kristen Houser, a spokeswoman for Raliance, a coalition of groups working with Uber to prevent sexual abuse on its service.

Uber's decision on Tuesday comes after several high-profile scandals and is a step in the right direction, according to several legal experts, but does not address class action lawsuits.

Uber is shifting its stance after receiving an open letter from the NY law firm Wigdor LLP, which already has filed a lawsuit seeking to be certified as a class action representing women who allege they have been raped, sexually harassed or abused in other ways by Uber drivers. The women will have to bring other claims in the suit, including unfair business practices, to an arbitrator.

And the company gained a reputation for sexism previous year after a viral blog post from a former engineer, according to The Washington Post.

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