Uber To No Longer Force Sex Assault Victims Into Arbitration

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Uber will no longer require its USA riders, drivers, or employees to arbitrate individual claims of sexual assault or harassment, chief legal officer Tony West announced today (May 15).

Additionally, if someone is unfortunately subjected to sexual harassment or assault, no matter how they seek to adjudicate that claim (whether arbitration, mediation, or traditional litigation in a public court) Uber won't force them to agree to stay quiet about their experience.

Now, Uber says employees, riders, and drivers can take those claims to open court or choose to join a class-action lawsuit.

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Uber's ride-hailing service will give its US passengers and drivers more leeway to pursue claims of sexual misconduct, its latest attempt to reverse its reputation for brushing aside bad behavior.

In April, a CNN investigation found there were at least 103 Uber drivers in the United States who have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the past four years. And racial and gender discrimination complaints will be resolved in private.

The San Francisco company is also scrapping a policy requiring all settlements of sexual misconduct to be kept confidential.

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The changes governing sexual misconduct come a month after Uber announced it will do criminal background checks on its US drivers annually and add a 911 button for summoning help in emergencies.

"Divulging the details of what happened in a sexual assault or harassment should be up to the survivor, not us", West said. "We want to bring these numbers out in the open". That revelation kicked off 2017's annus horribilis, a year during which Uber saw itself bouncing from one crisis to the next. It didn't say how often it would publish that report.

Uber's arbitration policy had previously been challenged in lawsuits, according to CNN. "They understand how their reputation will suffer if consumers perceive them as using arbitration to hide bad behavior". The company gained a reputation for rampant sexism previous year after Susan Fowler, a former engineer, wrote a viral blog post about harassment and retaliation she said she faced on the job. "What's most important is for individual survivors to be able to tell their individual stories".

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