Tech

Blumenthal Pushing For Women Allegedly Assaulted By Uber Drivers To Pursue Cases In Court

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has joined the charge to end forced arbitration clauses at Uber to hold people guilty of sexual assault accountable.

Blumenthal wrote a letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi urging him to end the practice because, in part, “powerful defendants can stack the deck against claimants and cover up wrongdoing.” Uber whistleblower Susan Fowler, California lawmakers, and several nonprofits in support of the “Me Too” movement also want to end this practice.

“I urge you to end Uber’s current practice of requiring all users to agree to a pre-dispute arbitration agreement in order to use your services,” Blumenthal wrote Wednesday. “When these agreements are inserted into the fine print of large corporations’ terms of service – as is the case with Uber – consumers lack a meaningful opportunity to understand and object before they give away their right to access the justice system.”

Arbitration is the practice of settling disputes out of court in a closed forum. Uber has a practice of forcing victims of alleged sexual assault to go through arbitration rather than in open court or a jury case.

By exposing Uber’s treatment of women in February 2017, Fowler helped spark the #MeToo movement and will not “stop until forced arbitration is no longer allowed,” she tweeted in April.

California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a Democrat, officially introduced a bill on Feb. 16, which is supported by Fowler, that “would also prohibit an employer from threatening, retaliating or discriminating against” any employee who chose to opt-out of an arbitration agreement.

More than 100 Uber drivers were accused of sexual assaulting or abusing their riders in the past four years, according to CNN. The $69 billion company is also facing a class action lawsuit from other victims of alleged sexual assault.

“Sexual assault has no place anywhere and we are committed to doing our part to end this violence,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday.

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