Uber changes policy on sexual-misconduct claims, allowing victims to pursue charges

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The company also will not force survivors of sexual harassment or assault to sign nondisclosure agreements that prohibit them from talking about their experience, and the company promises to publicly release data about sexual assaults that are connected to Uber rides. New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said he is committed to changing the company's culture to have a new emphasis on accountability and earning trust.

Previously, Uber's terms of service barred sexual assault victims-and other potential litigants-from pursuing their claims against Uber in open court, redirecting their cases to private arbitration.

Arbitration clauses have played a role in high-profile settlements involving film mogul Harvey Weinstein and others, enabling accusations and settlements to be made in secret. This means anyone who alleges sexual misconduct at the hands of Lyft drivers, riders or employees won't have to argue their case behind closed doors. "However, the company decided in these personal and hard set of claims the company wanted to give survivors the choice to seek redress in the venue of their choice, whether that's mediation, arbitration, or open court".

"Last month, Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer who authored a 2017 viral blog post about sexual harassment endured while working there, said: "We need to end the practice of forced arbitration", she wrote on April 12", legal loopholes companies use to cover up their illegal treatment of employees".

Lyft didn't initially tell Engadget whether or not it will publish a safety report to improve its transparency surrounding sexual assault and harassment cases. "This policy extends to passengers, drivers and Lyft employees", said Lyft spokesperson Alexandra LaManna in a statement on Tuesday.

The modification comes 2 weeks after the reporter reported the outcomes of its examination, which discovered a minimum of 103 Uber motorists in the United States who have actually been implicated of sexually attacking or abusing their guests in the past 4 years. Uber's chief legal officer, Tony West, released a statement on the company's website explaining the changes, and Lyft later followed suit announcing the same changes. He joined Uber as the company was going under a public and top of the food chain transformation. Uber faced a reckoning of its own past year after former software engineer Susan Fowler wrote a poignant blog post documenting harassment she faced there. Jeanne Christensen, a Wigdor partner, congratulated Uber for shedding the arbitration policy, a move she said "will begin a process to reduce future suffering by women passengers".

Uber says it has met with more than 80 women's groups and recruited several prominent advocates as advisers on these issues.