Uber handed class-action lawsuit from riders alleging sexual assault

Uber handed class-action lawsuit from riders alleging sexual assault

The women seeking class-action status asked for compensation for suffering but also for a judge to order an injunction to force Uber to change its policies including implementing stricter driver background checks. "These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously", an Uber spokesperson said. The other woman, who lives in Los Angeles, alleges an Uber driver assaulted her while she was asleep in the back seat of his auto and then took her home and raped her.

The suit accuses Uber of creating "a system for bad actors to gain access to vulnerable victims".

The suit includes information from an October story published in The Washington Post that said almost 15 percent of new ride-hail drivers in Maryland had been dismissed in the preceding six months for failing to meet state regulators' screening standards; of 3,503 applicants dismissed, 460 were booted for disqualifying criminal histories.

As an example of the failings of Uber's background checks, the complaint cites the more than 8,000 drivers in MA who were pulled off the road after the state government chose to introduce more stringent screenings and reviewed the records of the 71,000 people who drove on Uber or Lyft.

The lawsuit wants Uber to change how it screens drivers and consider other changes on behalf of the riders. In an earlier round of checks dating back to December 2015, the state rejected more than 4,000 applicants in a pool of 74,000 drivers. It's unclear whether Uber received complaints specific to these drivers.

The plaintiffs say the screening inconsistencies highlight the "faulty and defective quality" of Uber's driver screening. Commission staff had been applying a broader vetting criteria until late last month, the company argued.

It cites the #MeToo campaign, which emerged on social media following the harassment charges made by numerous women against film mogul Harvey Weinstein, for prompting "hundreds, if not thousands" of female passengers to implicate Uber drivers in tweets reporting sexual assaults.

The suit is the latest blow in a year of controversies for Uber, including allegations of rampant sexual harassment in its workplace. In Toronto for example, drivers must have a Private Transportation Company (PTC) license from the city, they must also undergo a renewed background check each year of criminal history and driving records.

Alleged incidents have occurred in many countries where Uber operates, and have resulted in several high-level employees departing from the company. In June, Uber's board of directors forced CEO Travis Kalanick to resign.

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".

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