Lyft drops arbitration requirement for sexual assault cases

Javier Stokes
May 16, 2018

In a fiercely competitive market, Uber's announcement has already triggered a bandwagon effect-hours later, Lyft also chose to scrap its forced arbitration and confidentiality agreements for assault victims."Today, 48 hours prior to an impending lawsuit against their company, Uber made the good decision to adjust their policies", Lyft said, not exactly taking the high road.

Uber's ride-hailing service will give its USA passengers and drivers more leeway to pursue claims of sexual misconduct, its latest attempt to shed its reputation for brushing aside bad behavior.

A CNN investigation revealed at least 103 Uber drivers in the US were accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers in the past four years.

A spokeswoman for Uber told NPR that the company has been considering a change to its arbitration policy for several months. "Arbitration is not a settlement (cases are decided on their merits), and, unless the parties agree to keep the process confidential, it does not prevent survivors from speaking out about their experience".

Indeed, Tuesday's change seems tied to a larger, concerted campaign by Dara Khosrowshahi to at least superficially reform the historically troubled company. "This will not be the last issue Uber has to clean up to show it is dealing with all issues so that customers will trust the brand".

The rideshare business stated Tuesday it will not push into arbitration travelers who declare that they have actually been sexually attacked or bugged by motorists- something Uber states was formerly needed under its regards to service.

MWW PR chair reputation management and chief strategy officer Careen Winters says that Uber's new direction should remind communicators that doing the right thing is always a good move.

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"On the heels of controversies ranging from exploitative use of surge pricing to questionable CEO behavior, there are reasonable questions about Uber's values at a time when consumers are increasingly voting with their wallets and using shared values as a key decision maker".

Assault and harassment cases are now exempt from that requirement.

Uber also promised to publish a safety transparency report that will put numbers behind sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on its platform.

"We have learned it's important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims", he said.

The pressure on Uber to change its policy included an open letter that the 14 women in the class-action suit sent to the company's board of directors last month.

Lyft, a rival vehicle service, had similar terms of service requiring passengers to use arbitration.

There is no publicly available data for the number of sexual assaults by Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare companies.

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