Uber ends policy of forced arbitration for individual sexual assault claims
15 May, 2018, 22:32
"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", Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer, told CNN.
In addition to ending mandatory arbitration for individual claims of sexual assault and harassment and rescinding the requirement that survivors sign a confidentiality provision, Uber said it plans to publish a "safety transparency report". He was hired last August amid a wave of revelations and allegations about rampant sexual harassment in Uber's workforce, a cover-up of a massive data breach, dirty tricks and stolen trade secrets. Lawsuits against the ride-sharing tech giant allege that Uber seeks to hide the size of the problem by not being transparent per CNN, but West claims that policy will end shortly.
The new policy is one of a number of changes made by new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who also is tightening driver screenings and enhancing its app so customers can have more trusted contacts able to follow each trip and a new emergency button that automatically dials 911.
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.
It may also spur more complaints. "Once people know we're counting and we're paying attention then what is a vastly unreported crime today will become more reported - and that's a good thing". That includes court proceedings like class-action lawsuits and other methods like mediation.
The forced arbitration allowed Uber to keep such allegations under wraps.
Previously, if you wanted to use Uber's app that meant you automatically agreed to terms and conditions and agreed to resolve any legal claims in an arbitration hearing.
Last month, Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer who authored a 2017 viral blog post about sexual harassment she endured while working there, penned an op-ed for the New York Times on how to terminate such behavior.
"As bold and far reaching as this announcement and decision is, and as unique as it is, it won't give everything to everybody", West said.
- CNN's Nelli Black, Curt Devine, Drew Griffin, Majlie de Puy Kamp, Collette Richards and Whitney Clegg contributed reporting.
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