Uber faces suit from women alleging sexual assault by drivers

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An iPhone displays the Uber ride-hailing app on 26 September 2017, in Hong Kong.
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Uber is facing a lawsuit from a firm representing women who claim they were assaulted by drivers who use the ride-hailing platform.

The complaint, filed Wednesday, claims that “women passengers in multiple states were kidnapped, sexually assaulted, sexually battered, raped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed, or otherwise attacked” by their Uber drivers.

The case was filed by attorneys with the Slater Slater Schulman firm in San Francisco County Superior Court. The law firm said it has about 550 clients with claims against the company, and at least 150 more are being actively investigated.

The law firm said in a press release, “As early as 2014, Uber became aware that its drivers were sexually assaulting and raping female passengers; nevertheless, in the eight years since, sexual predators driving for Uber have continued to attack passengers, including the plaintiffs whose claims were alleged in today’s action,”

After the publication of this story, an Uber spokesperson sent the following statement:

“Sexual assault is a horrific crime and we take every single report seriously. There is nothing more important than safety, which is why Uber has built new safety features, established survivor-centric policies, and been more transparent about serious incidents. While we can’t comment on pending litigation, we will continue to keep safety at the heart of our work.”

“While the firm claims to be representing at least 550 women with cases – the law firm has only filed 12 to date,” Uber said on Thursday afternoon. “They have not been able to provide any critical incident details for us to identify a connection to the Uber platform. 

A spokesperson representing Slater Slater Schulman responded to Uber’s comment noting it has filed 24 claims to date and reiterating that the firm represents 550 clients with sexual assault claims against Uber and that at least 150 more are being actively investigated.

“The cases have been and will continue to be filed in multi-party complaints, which means they are not filed all at once as they would in a class action.” The firm provided copies of 24 complaints filed as of Friday and said the remainder will be filed in the coming months.

“The cases have been and will continue to be filed in multi-party complaints, which means they are not filed all at once as they would in a class action,” the Slater Slater Schulman spokesperson said.

The filing comes nearly two weeks after the ride-hailing giant released its second safety report.

Uber said it received 3,824 reports of the five most severe categories of sexual assault in 2019 and 2020, ranging from “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part” to “non-consensual sexual penetration,” or rape.

The company said reported sexual assaults decreased by 38% from its initial report, which covered 2017 and 2018. It’s unclear if there was an impact from the Covid-19 pandemic, which dramatically reduced the number of riders during 2020 and 2021.

“While the company has acknowledged this crisis of sexual assault in recent years, its actual response has been slow and inadequate, with horrific consequences,” Adam Slater, a founding partner of Slater Slater Schulman, said in a statement.

Uber has introduced a number of safety options in recent years, such as screening drivers when they sign up on the platform and once a year after that. Still, the company has maintained in lawsuits that it can’t be held responsible for its drivers, whom it considers independent contractors rather than employees, Bloomberg Law reported.

Correction: Updated to reflect the suit was filed by a law firm that says it has 550 clients.

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