Several women have filed a lawsuit against Uber alleging they were sexually assaulted by drivers for the ride-hailing company while the company ignored passenger safety in favor of profit and corporate growth.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Francisco County Superior Court alleges the women “were kidnapped, sexually assaulted, sexually abused, raped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed, and/or otherwise attacked” while being transported by a driver. from Uber.
The lawsuit details the accounts of five alleged victims who are named as plaintiffs in the case. The law firm Slater Slater Schulman LLP, which represents the women, says it has approximately 550 clients with claims against Uber, and at least 150 more are being actively investigated, although they are not plaintiffs in this case.
The trucking company had known about the incidents since at least 2014 but failed to take adequate security measures, the complaint alleges. The most recent alleged sexual assault incident cited in the complaint occurred early last month. None of the alleged victims are named.
“Uber can do a lot more to protect riders: add cameras to deter assaults, run stronger background checks on drivers, create a warning system when drivers don’t stay on course to a destination,” Attorney Adam Slater. , whose law firm represents the alleged victims, he said in a statement.
Uber, responding to the 49-page lawsuit, said it takes all reports of sexual assault seriously.
“While we are unable to comment on pending litigation, we will continue to keep safety at the core of our work,” the company said in a statement to HuffPost on Thursday.
The lawsuit accuses the San Francisco-based company of being “slow and inadequate” in handling the incidents and blames in part the “toxic male culture at Uber” for fueling sexual assaults, saying the company puts ” profits and growth to safety. everything else.”
In addition, he accuses the company of committing unethical practices, including improperly pocketing a $1 “Safe Travel Fee” that it imposed on passengers in 2014. Instead of using this money to improve passenger safety, it obtained hundreds of millions dollars in revenue, as first reported by The New York Times in 2019, leading to lawsuits.
Uber revealed last month in a US Safety Report that the company received 3,824 reports of sexual assault and misconduct involving passengers in 2019 and 2020. It said the rate of sexual assault reported on the Uber app had decreased. by 38% since its last safety report of 2019, which covered the years 2017 and 2018. The company also noted that travel decreased by up to 80% at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, although it is not clear what impact this may have had this at that reporting rate.
The company said it has implemented a number of safety measures for passengers in recent years, including direct access to 911 through its app, a GPS tracker that notifies the company if a trip is unusually diverted or if a potential accident has occurred, and the ability for passengers to share real-time details about their trip and arrival with others.
All potential drivers must also undergo a background check, though the lawsuit filed Wednesday calls for drivers to undergo a more extensive biometric background check, with drivers being fingerprinted. He argues that this could correct the “false negatives” that come up in ordinary name-based background checks.
Uber, founded in 2009, has long faced complaints of misconduct among its corporate staff and drivers.
Earlier this week, The Guardian published internal Uber memos and communications it obtained; documented law enforcement, international lobbying, and exploitation of driver safety between 2013 and 2017.
In 2017, the company’s co-founder, Travis Kalanick, resigned after a rise in ethics complaints and demands, including allegations that he ignored sexual harassment claims. He resigned from Uber’s board in 2019 after selling his shares in the company worth more than $2.5 billion.
“We have not and will not make excuses for past behavior that is clearly not in line with our current values,” the company said in a statement to The Guardian in response to internal documents that were released. “Instead, we ask the public to judge us by what we have done in the last five years and what we will do in the years to come.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that there were more than 500 plaintiffs in this case. The plaintiffs’ law firm has said it represents approximately 550 clients with claims against Uber, with cases yet to be filed. The number of plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Wednesday is five.