In recent months, more than 100 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault in a stunning blow to the company’s reputation. At least 30 Uber drivers have been convicted of forcible touching, rape and false imprisonment leading more and more people to question the safety of ride-sharing. If you have been or believe you have been the victim of sexual assault at the hands of an Uber driver, here is what you should know.
1. Uber has a history of forcing victims into arbitration.
In order to prevent protracted legal battles, Uber has tried to force victims of sexual assault into arbitration rather than seeking recourse in the courts. Part of its user agreement states that Uber users agree to solve any claims through arbitration. What this does is keep incidents of sexual assault under wraps rather than bringing it to light in a trial. However, as of May 2018, the company will no longer force victims to arbitrate claims nor will it require confidentiality as a condition of a settlement. These policy changes will be reflected in Uber’s new terms of service.
2. Uber recently started re-running background checks on drivers annually.
Up until this year, Uber’s background check process was done once at the outset of a driver’s application. After a series of sexual assaults committed by Uber drivers, the company began seeing that many of the perpetrators had been accused of sexual misconduct while they were drivers. Since the company’s policy was to only background check their drivers once, these accusations were going unnoticed. Beginning this summer, Uber drivers will be background screened annually in an effort to root out potential problems.
3. Uber is creating an “Emergency” button on their app.
Uber is working on app updates that include an “Emergency” button that automatically contacts 911 from within the app. They are also creating a “safety center” that allows riders to share their itinerary, driver information and location with friends or family. Since the foundation the Uber model is basically hitchhiking with strangers, the idea of having safety protocols in place is late, but is indicative of Uber’s reaction to so many sexual assaults going public.
4. Rape is not the only form of sexual assault.
Too many people think that in order for a crime to be classified as “sexual assault” there must be rape. This is simply not the case. While the definition of sexual assault varies from state to state, any form of sexual contact without your consent including touching or groping – even through clothes, threats of a sexual nature, indecent exposure of genitals, or attempted rape. Sexual harassment can happen even without contact. If your Uber driver says things of a lewd or sexual nature to you, you may be entitled to damages. If you have been the victim of any form of sexual assault or sexual harassment, contact police immediately. Once you have filed a report, it is time to contact an attorney to help you navigate these complicated legal waters. For more information or to discuss your Uber sexual assault or harassment case, call The Elan Law Firm today.