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Uber Overhauls Its Policies For Sex Assault Cases

Uber Overhauls Its Policies For Sex Assault Cases

This means individual riders or drivers in the USA can choose to pursue allegations of sexual assault or harassment in open courts, and not just in closed arbitration hearings.

The announcement comes after 14 women sent a letter last month to Uber's board requesting to be released from arbitration, to allow them to pursue a class-action lawsuit alleging Uber's inadequate driver screening procedures led to the sexual assault, rape, sexual harassment and gender-motivated violence they experienced at the hands of their drivers.

"The last 18 months have exposed a silent epidemic of sexual assault and harassment that haunts every industry and every community", Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer, wrote in a blog post on Uber's website.

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.

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. However, an Uber spokesman added that arbitration isn't necessarily bad.

Uber, like many companies, has a clause in its user agreement - and its employment contract - that requires a person to waive his or her constitutional right to take Uber to court. West included, "I wish to thank (the reporter) for the reporting that you have actually done on this problem".

Jeanne Christensen, a Wigdor partner, congratulated Uber for shedding the arbitration policy, a move she said "will begin a process to reduce future suffering by women passengers".

"We have learned it's important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims", he said.

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At least 31 drivers have been convicted for crimes ranging from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape, and dozens of criminal and civil cases are pending, CNN found.

Additionally, it will publish a "safety transparency report" that will put numbers behind sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on its platform.

The new rules mark another conciliatory move made by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi (kahs-row-SHAH'-hee).

The firm isn't subtle in taking a dig at Uber: in a statement, Lyft noted that Uber changed its arbitration demands just two days before facing a lawsuit.

West informed the reporter he anticipates the variety of reports to increase when Uber launches information on sexual assaults and other events.

The upheaval in Uber's leadership was prompted in large part by one woman, Susan Fowler, who publicly shared her story about experiencing egregious sexual harassment at Uber and reporting it, repeatedly, to managers and human resources reps who dismissed her concerns and threatened retaliation. They now have the choice of arbitration, mediation or open court if they file suit individually.

Uber says it has met with more than 80 women's groups and recruited several prominent advocates as advisers on these issues.