Uber Sued for Alleged Driver Sexual Assaults
I remember thinking on my first Uber ride what a legal can of worms the fantastically successful new service had opened. It is amazing the number of people (myself included) who suspend suspicion and hop into a car with a complete stranger. Of course, we have been doing it for over a century in taxis. The difference is that cabs are heavily regulated by the government.
And as expected, the lawsuits against Uber have started. The most recent is an incredibly interesting, 52 page Complaint just filed in federal court in San Francisco. In the lawsuit, two unidentified females claim they were violently sexually assaulted by Uber drivers in Boston and Charleston. The suit also refers to over 30 other alleged driver assaults in the last two years.
The ladies claim that Uber markets itself as the best option for a safe ride home after a night of drinking, and that its goal is to make drunk driving a thing of the past. But the suit also claims that riders making the choice to use the Uber app, after drinking, puts themselves in danger from the drivers. They allege that “investigations into Uber’s safety measures reveal that Uber routinely fails to adequately screen its employees and regularly hires drivers with known criminal histories, at the expense of its customers who are place squarely in danger. Further, Uber openly admits that it fails to exercise any supervision over drivers while they are working”.
The plaintiffs claim misrepresentation, negligence, negligent hiring/supervision/retention, assault, battery, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress, fraud and lack of compliance with local regulations.
They also request that the federal judge order Uber to “overhaul its woefully inadequate safety measures” by, among other things:
Opening a 24/7 customer support center with access to all employer records.
Requiring drivers to install a GPS tracking system in their cars.
Disabling child-lock features on all vehicles.
Requiring in-person screening interviews of all prospective drivers.
Installing video cameras in all cars, which immediately set off alarms if they are disabled or malfunction.
Providing customers with the option of requesting a female driver.
Performing periodic and annual background checks on the drivers.
Barring registered sex offenders from becoming drivers.
Uber has not yet responded to the suit. But this suit strikes straight at its business model, and the company won’t take it lightly.