Uber Changes Policy To Combat Sexual Misconduct

Uber Changes Policy To Combat Sexual Misconduct

Uber will end its practice of mandatory arbitration for claims of sexual assault and harassment by riders, drivers or employees, the company said Tuesday. Now individuals will be able to pursue their claims of sexual assault and harassment in any venue they choose: open court, mediation, or arbitration.

An April 2018 CNN search of police and court records in 20 major United States cities found that 103 Uber drivers had been accused of sexual assault over the previous four years; 31 drivers had been convicted and dozens of others faced criminal and civil cases at the time.

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

While scandals at Uber's corporate offices have taken center stage, the company has also faced plenty of other well-publicized harassment and assault allegations from members of its ride-hailing platform.

Forced arbitration is common to many industries and allows companies to keep sexual misconduct claims out of the court system and away from public view, the Times said.

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The company has also stated that the policy applies only to cases involving sexual assault and harassment; other cases, such as racial and gender discrimination complaints, will still be resolved through private administration.

"You want people to report lower-level infractions so you can nip them in the bud before they become bigger problems", she said.

West said he expected the number of reported assaults to increase in the first six to nine months after reporting the initial figures because "people will see that we are paying attention, that we are counting, that we looking to act on this data and that will encourage more reporting". That would include rides and deliveries, as well as incidents that happen before pickup or after drop-off. Now, customers can take those claims to court or join a class-action lawsuit, the company said. Even worse for consumers is that in the world of arbitration, there is no possibility of class-action claims.

While no specific timeline has been given for the report's release, an Uber spokesperson told Axios that the company's Chief Legal Officer Tony West hopes to publish the report by the end of the year. 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.

In December, Microsoft announced it was eliminating forced arbitration agreements with employees who made sexual assault or harassment claims.

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