Uber Hit With Another Sexual Assault Lawsuit

Uber cars appear in San Francisco Calif. in this undated image

Uber Hit With Another Sexual Assault Lawsuit

Two women are seeking class-action status for the suit on behalf of all "female riders that have experienced rape, sexual assault or gender-motivated harassment at the hands of their Uber drivers".

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 suit is the latest blow in a year of controversies for Uber, including allegations of rampant sexual harassment in its workplace.

The California lawsuit also notes that this issue of assault is no longer about a "rogue" driver who failed to follow rules, but is a widespread issue.

The lawsuit claims that by labeling itself as a "technology" company instead of a "transportation" company, that Uber has been able to avoid costlier background checks.

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In a statement to The Register, an Uber spokesperson said: "Uber received this complaint today and we are in the process of reviewing it".

Uber has argued that the screening standards applied in Maryland - where thousands of drivers have been rejected upon review since December 2015 - are outdated, overly broad and fail to adhere to a legal standard established by the state Public Service Commission a year ago. Los Angeles and San Francisco sued the company a couple of years back, alleging that Uber missed criminal records for drivers with serious crimes in their past. In addition to allegations raised by the plaintiffs and news reports of incidents in various cities and states around the country, the lawsuit cites complaints highlighted over social media through the #MeToo campaign, which raises awareness of sexual harassment and its prevalence in workplaces and other facets of life. In June, Uber's board of directors forced CEO Travis Kalanick to resign.

The new lawsuit against Uber was filed in California's U.S. District Court for the Northern District. The women say that Uber doesn't do enough to perform background checks, thus creating a "system" within which "bad actors can gain access to vulnerable victims". One executive who was ousted was about a woman who was raped during an Uber ride in India.

Internal customer support documents obtained from Uber in 2016 showed that more than 6,000 driver or rider complaints include the term "sexual assault", although Uber claims the actual number of assaults is far lower. The other was raped by an Uber driver in her apartment in Miami. It is time for Uber to 'Do the right thing.

Last week, John David Sanchez, 52, a former Uber driver who raped one passenger and sexually assaulted more than 12 women was sentenced to 80 years and 4 months in jail.

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