Uber changes USA sexual assault policies


And last month, Fowler wrote an op-ed in The New York Times arguing that to fight sexual harassment, the USA needs to bring an end to forced arbitration of sexual harassment cases - across the board. Arbitration clauses are fairly standard-they're included in the employment contracts of an estimated 60 million Americans. However, the numbers suggest that there may be many more overall incidents of sexual assault than the 103 cases found in the investigation.

Beyond Uber, there's been a push to cut back on the use of forced arbitration by employers.

Under mounting pressure, Uber will announce Tuesday that it will no longer forbid passengers, drivers and employees from speaking publicly about sexual harassment or assault complaints they bring against the ride-hailing giant. They are getting rid of that policy for customers and employees alike.

"We think it is very, very important to allow survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment the control and agency that was, frankly, stripped from them in that incident", Uber's chief legal officer, Tony West, told CNN in a phone interview. "Whatever they decide, they will be free to tell their story wherever and however they see fit". "It's in the right direction". And racial and gender discrimination complaints will be resolved in private.

The shift announced Tuesday will allow riders and drivers to file allegations of rape and other sexual misconduct in courts and mediation instead of being locked into an arbitration hearing.

"Preventing victims from proceeding together, on a class basis, shows that Uber is not fully committed to meaningful change", she said. "Victims are more likely to come forward knowing they can proceed as a group".

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"It starts with improving our product and policies, but it requires so much more, and we're in it for the long haul", West concluded in the post.

The San Francisco company is also scrapping a policy requiring all settlements of sexual misconduct to be kept confidential. Lyft, an Uber competitor, has a similar terms of service that says users will agree resolve claims through arbitration. "Our message to the world is that we need to turn the lights on".

The company named Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO in August 2017 after months of turbulence including sexual harassment in the workplace, trade secret theft allegations and a federal investigation. In recent weeks, Uber has announced plans to stop giving drivers a log of people's exact pickup and drop-off locations, which for years has perturbed female riders.

The changes concerning misconduct have come a month after Uber announced that it will carry out criminal background checks on its USA drivers annually and add a 911 button for summoning assistance in case of emergencies; an effort to keep people from using its service to prey on possible victims.

"Today, 48 hours prior to an impending lawsuit against their company, Uber made the good decision to adjust their policies", Lyft said in a statement, referencing a class-action suit NY employment-litigation firm Wigdor filed in federal court in California in November.

Wigdor attorney Jeanne M. Christensen, who is representing women in the class-action suit against Uber, said ending forced arbitration for individual cases was a "critical step" and congratulated the firm for its decision.