Uber has been hit with yet another lawsuit, after two women filed a class action legal complaint accusing the company of not doing enough to protect riders from rape, which they claim to be direct victims of.
The women, who are remaining anonymous, argue that due to an alleged lack of proper, thorough screenings by workers, certain customers of the service have been “subject to rape, sexual assault or gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver in the last four years.” They are seeking substantial changes to how Uber vets its drivers, according to Recode, as well as compensation for instances of rape they themselves allegedly experienced.
The women claim that while patronizing the ride-sharing company, drivers sexually assaulted them. Thus, since they had an expectation of safe transit, Uber has engaged in “fraudulent” conduct, they argue.
“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired,” the legal complaint reads, according to Recode. “Nothing meaningful has been done to make rides safer for passengers — especially women. This is no longer an issue of ‘rogue’ drivers who act unlawfully.”
Technically, Uber drivers are contractors, and not permanent, formal employees of the company. Nevertheless, Uber is still responsible for finding fitting drivers. And it has been hit with accusations of internal misconduct on several occasions, especially as it relates to highly inappropriate behavior towards female workers.
Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote an incredibly disturbing account of her time at the company, including anecdotes of sexual harassment.
She talked to other female engineers at the tech company, heard their stories, and learned that other employees were also engaging in offensive conduct, including the exact same manager she initially reported as the worst offender. Not longer after she published her scathing, tell-all blog post, more and more women in various positions across the tech industry started to speak up, revealing a larger problem not just specific to Uber. (RELATED: Tesla Says Sexual Harassment Accuser Received ‘Special Treatment,’ But ‘Chose To Purse A Miscarriage Of Justice’)
In fact, Fowler’s accusations had such a reverberating effect, that she even recently sold her life rights to producers so her story could be turned into a movie.
And none of this touches upon the fact a woman who was raped in India by an Uber driver — which caused a huge stir in the country — filed a lawsuit against the tech firm a few months ago. The plaintiff did not just file the lawsuit because “she was brutally rapped … in December 2014.” She also issued the legal complaint because Uber executives reportedly “violated her a second time by unlawfully obtaining and sharing her medical records from that vicious sexual assault and have failed, as of the date of this filing, to apologize to her for this outrageous conduct.”
Eric Alexander, former president of business in the Asia Pacific, was fired for chasing down the very personal files, and then sharing it with former CEO Travis Kalanick and other higher-ups.
Uber has tried to stymie its reputation as a firm with an ultra-aggressive and consequently internally careless ethos in which some female employees feel belittled or extremely uncomfortable. Uber announced earlier in the month that it is donating $5 million to seven sexual assault prevention organizations over the next five years.
With another lawsuit — this one directed at its drivers — leaders at Uber may need to take a firmer grip on the wheel to not only try to rid of an outwardly toxic culture, but also address these women’s serious accusations.
That may not be easy as Arianna Huffington, eponymous founder of the liberal media outlet The Huffington Post, who also is the sole female board member at Uber, has been accused of ignoring sexual assault claims at her news company. Huffington was supposed to be the savior that many people thought Uber so badly need. But if the respective accusations made by the two aforementioned women and against Huffington are both true, perhaps not much can save the public’s perception of Uber.
Especially considering it’s not just sexual harassment allegations. In general, Uber has been sued at least 435 times in roughly the first 8 and a half months of 2017. (RELATED: Ten Percent Of Women In Tech World Report ‘Unwanted Sexual Attention’)
A spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation that: “Uber received this complaint today and we are in the process of reviewing it. These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously.”
Of course not every rape accusation ends up being true. In a likely rare moment, an irate passenger earlier in the year falsely threatened to file fake rape accusations against her Uber driver, who was fortunately videotaping the whole frustrating ordeal.
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