"These kind of clauses are pretty common, but to have a company come out in front of it and say "it's not the right thing to do" is significant", said Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer for Raliance, an advocacy group working with Uber.
Uber says it's getting rid of its forced arbitration agreements for employees, riders and drivers who make sexual assault claims against the company.
Previously, upon signing up for Uber's service, Uber says users agreed to resolve any claims on an individual basis through arbitration.
"We commit to publishing a safety transparency report that will include data on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on the Uber platform", Uber's chief legal officer, Tony West, wrote in the blog. So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer: in a mediation where they can choose confidentiality; in arbitration, where they can choose to maintain their privacy while pursuing their case; or in open court.
Lyft's ride-hailing service is following market leader Uber's example and dropping a requirement that kept a lid on allegations of sexual misconduct made by its passengers and drivers.
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CNN also contacted more than 20 police departments to obtain data on complaints that involved Uber and Lyft drivers and sexual assault. "Whether to find closure, seek treatment, or become advocates for change themselves, survivors will be in control of whether to share their stories". And in a Twitter exchange in March Khosrowshahi signaled he was willing to consider ending forced arbitration.
Uber is due to respond in court by Wednesday about whether it will require the women in the proposed class action suit to carry out their assault claims in arbitration.
Uber also announced two other policy changes pertaining to sexual assault. I will tell you that, when this data is actually published as part of the safety transparency report, I think those numbers are going to be disturbing.
However, in the end, Uber has decided it will go ahead and publish data.
"It's one step toward making a change, but just bringing the issue into the open doesn't solve the problem", Christensen told Reuters.