Uber ends forced arbitration for sex assault, harassment claims

Uber ends forced arbitration for sex assault, harassment claims

The company is ending the controversial practice of forced arbitration for all of its employees, riders, and drivers, reports CNBC.

The company now will let sexual assault and harassment victims chose mediation, arbitration or open court.

Uber said on Tuesday sexual harassment or assault victims will have the option to settle claims with the ride-hailing service without a confidentiality provision that prevents them from speaking about the incidents.

The company says the change is an attempt to bring "transparency, integrity, and accountability" to the way it handles workplace complaints.

By the end of the year, Uber will also start to publicly report incidents of alleged sexual misconduct in hopes of establishing more transparency about the issue throughout the ride-hailing and traditional taxi industries.

But a CNN investigation found at least 103 Uber drivers in the USA who had been accused of sexual assault or harassment by passengers over the past four years.

"Whether to find closure, seek treatment, or become advocates for change themselves, survivors will be in control of whether to share their stories", wrote Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer, in a blog post.

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In addition, Lyft said it will no longer require confidentiality agreements in exchange for settlements - a change Uber also made.

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

"It's one step toward making a change, but just bringing the issue into the open doesn't solve the problem", Christensen told Reuters. However, the numbers suggest that there may be many more overall incidents of sexual assault than the cases found in the investigation.

The news came one day ahead of a court-mandated deadline for Uber to respond in a proposed class action lawsuit filed by law firm Wigdor LLP on behalf of nine women accusing drivers of sexual assault.

Previously, upon signing up for Uber or Lyft services, users had to agree to resolve claims on an individual basis through arbitration.

The forced arbitration allowed Uber to keep such allegations under wraps.

Beyond Uber, there's been a push to cut back on the use of forced arbitration by employers. "What's most important is for individual survivors to be able to tell their individual stories".

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