Uber ends arbitration requirement for sex misconduct claims

US-AVIATION-SCIENCE-TRANSPORTATION

Uber has agreed to change their terms of service which previously required Uber passengers that were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers to enter arbitration, CNN reports.

Last month, Uber announced that they would start performing annual criminal background checks on USA drivers, hire a company to constantly monitor criminal arrests and add a 911 button to get help in case of emergency. Hearings have the trappings of a court hearing-arbitrators are often retired judges-except that they are wholly private.

The changes governing sexual misconduct come a month after Uber announced it will do criminal background checks on its USA drivers annually and add a 911 button for summoning help in emergencies.

Uber says it's putting safety at the core of everything it does. Forced arbitration agreements have been criticized because they allow companies to silence victims by making them settle disputes out of public courts.

"We have learned it's important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims", Uber said. In March 2018, Uber came under fire after court records showed it had tried to push the women in that case toward individual arbitration. The company said it also plans to begin publishing a publicly available "safety transparency report" with data on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on the Uber platform.

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"Divulging the details of what happened in a sexual assault or harassment should be up to the survivor, not us", West said.

Uber is changing how it handles assault claims.

"We think the numbers are going to be disturbing", said Tony West, a former government prosecutor during the Obama administration who became Uber's chief legal officer after Khosrowshahi took over.

In Uber's case, the company is trying to win back riders lost to Lyft, which doubled its ridership a year ago after the sexual harassment complaints.

Uber's arbitration policy had previously been challenged in lawsuits, according to CNN. She joined California lawmakers in April to introduce a state bill that would ban forced arbitration. The company's revised policies, in addition to not being applied retroactively, also don't apply to class-action claims.

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