Uber To Pay $9Million In Sexual Assault Settlement

Uber Technologies Inc., a ride-hailing business, has agreed to pay California authorities a $9 million settlement for failing to respond to information requests regarding sexual assault claims lodged by its passengers and drivers.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Uber, and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) — a group that collaborates with Uber on sexual misconduct training for drivers — have reached an agreement that will improve passenger safety programs. Uber will pay a $5 million fine to the California Victim Compensation Board, a $4 million fine to the state’s general treasury for efforts to address physical and sexual abuse in the ride-hailing sector and a $150,000 fine to the California Victim Compensation Board.

The payment, which was cut from an initial $59 million punishment, would be used to promote passenger safety, according to the CPUC. The CPUC had ordered Uber to pass over information regarding assaults and harassment for two years, but it did not comply. It claimed then that it would be a “shocking invasion of privacy” for victims. Adding that it would be upsetting for those who had been abused and could discourage future reports – especially since the CPUC was requesting the names of all “witnesses,” which would include those who had been assaulted.

Uber fought the decision for months, going back and forth with authorities. However, a judge determined in December 2020 that Uber had “refused to comply without any legitimate legal or factual grounds” and therefore be fined $59 million. If Uber does not pay the fine in full and cooperate with the data requests within 30 days, the judge recommends suspending the company’s operating permits.

The agreement between Uber, the CPUC, and RAINN ended a nearly two-year legal battle over whether Uber should send over records concerning reported incidents involving its drivers. In the future, Uber will give information to the Californian government using “unique IDs” rather than names to protect people’s identities. It would also create an “opt-in” process for “survivors” who wish to tell state officials more about what happened. We’re pleased that the full commission has approved this agreement, which was crafted in consultation with CPUC personnel and RAINN experts. Most critically, according to Uber spokesperson Jodi Kawada Page, we can move forward with a solution that protects survivors’ privacy and agency.

The ride-hailing app had been pressured to divulge information about its safety record. It did so in December 2019, promising to release another report every two years. The edition for 2021 is yet to be released. However, the initial report revealed that Uber received roughly 6,000 allegations of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018 – a small percentage of the more than two billion rides it conducted during that time, according to the firm. In its first safety report, released earlier this year. Lyft, another prominent ride-hailing app in the United States, reported more than 4,000 incidences of sexual assault between 2017 and 2019.

The number of sexual assault reports received via the company’s app increased from 1,096 in 2017 to 1,255 in 2018 and 1,807 in 2019. According to the report, “non-consensual contact with a sexual body part” occurred in more than half of the cases in 2019. It also includes 156 reports of nonconsensual sexual penetration and identified ten deadly assaults from 2017 to 2019, four of which occurred in 2019.

Lyft revealed the information nearly two years after Uber released a similar report revealing that over 3,000 sexual assaults occurred on Uber rides in the United States in 2018. “Although our platform has very few safety issues, we acknowledge that one is too many. “Every report is based on real-life experiences, and our objective is to make every Lyft ride as secure as possible,” Jennifer Brandenburger, head of policy development and research, stated.

The corporation has invested in safety features, conducted thorough driver background checks, and sought advice from sexual assault experts. Lyft claims to conduct initial and annual background checks on all drivers and to keep track of criminal and driving records. According to a business representative, the rate of sexual assaults as a percentage of rides reduced by 19% over the three years covered in the research. From 2017 to 2019, more than 99% of rides were completed without any recorded safety-related incidents, according to the business.

Lyft had promised to release its report by the end of 2019 when its larger competitor Uber released the industry’s first comprehensive safety report. In 2019, over a dozen women sued Lyft, alleging that the business failed to implement fundamental safety precautions that would have prevented the claimed assaults. The women also claimed that the firm downplayed their severity when the incidents were reported.

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