Uber updates sexual assault policy

On Tuesday, Uber announced that it will no longer settle sexual assault allegations through private arbitration, allowing users of the ride-sharing app to take the company to court.

“The last 18 months have exposed a silent epidemic of sexual assault and harassment that haunts every industry and every community. Uber is not immune to this deeply rooted problem, and we believe that it is up to us to be a big part of the solution. With that in mind, we’re making some important changes today,” says the company.

“We will no longer require mandatory arbitration for individual claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by Uber riders, drivers or employees.”

This comes after a CNN exposé detailing 103 unique sexual assault and abuse allegations against Uber.

According to the article, 31 drivers were convicted of “crimes ranging from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape, and dozens of criminal and civil cases are pending.”

Although drivers can be taken to court, the company cannot.

In the ‘terms of use’ agreement on Uber’s website, the company states that “[riders] and Uber agree that any dispute, claim or controversy will be settled by binding arbitration between you and Uber, and not in a court of law.”

“You acknowledge and agree that you and Uber are each waiving the right to a trial by jury or to participate as a plaintiff or class member in any purported class action or representative proceeding”, the agreement states.

Along with the demise of the company’s strict private arbitration practices, Uber will give sexual assault survivors free rein over how they want to pursue recourse. Additionally, survivors can settle their cases without adhering to a “confidentiality provision that prevents them from speaking about the facts of the sexual assault or sexual harassment they suffered.”

The company — which was started in 2010 and reports that it facilitates 15-million trips a day worldwide — noted that it will also be making “significant improvements” to uphold safety standards. The improvements include re-running background and motor vehicle checks annually. The app also created a sharing feature allowing riders to share their live location and an emergency button on U.S. Uber that alerts emergency services of a car’s location if a rider feels unsafe.

Lastly, the company will begin to publish reports on sexual assaults and other instances that occur in Uber vehicles.

“Our message to the world is that we need to turn the lights on. It starts with improving our product and policies, but it requires so much more, and we’re in it for the long haul,” writes the company.

“Together, we can make meaningful progress towards ending sexual violence. Our commitment to you is that when we say we stand for safety, we mean it.”

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