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Court filings claim Uber’s lax driver background checks put women riders at risk

A master complaint has been filed in the Uber Passenger Sexual Assault Multi-District Litigation case against Uber Technologies, and it alleges that the rideshare company’s policies don’t do enough to keep riders safe from sexual assault.

Court documents filed by the attorneys on behalf of the victims accuse Uber of increasing the risk of sexual assault on riders by making it too easy to become a driver on the application.

The complaint was filed in United States District Court Northern District of California’s San Francisco Division. The attorneys representing the riders who accused their drivers of sexual assault are demanding a jury trial in the case.

“Uber’s own data proves that – contrary to its marketing – it’s not a safe platform for women, and it has never taken sexual assault seriously,” Rachel Abrams, partner at Peiffer Wolf and a co-lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said. “Over the past decade, as Uber was receiving thousands of rape and sexual assault reports each year, at the same time it was blasting out ads aimed at young women that they should trust Uber with their safety.”

The complaint details the cultural shift that Uber created around accepting a ride from a stranger. The attorneys argue that though taxi drivers in the United States have faced scrupulous application requirements including fingerprints and a background test, Uber followed a different policy.

The attorneys argue that Uber’s thirst for fast growth created the need for many new drivers; they say Uber did this by minimizing the safety regulations around drivers, including background checks.

“When Uber launched its new transportation system, it did not hire any safety experts nor did it spend a single minute or a single dollar thinking about how to prevent sexual assault. To this day, Uber’s efforts regarding safety are primarily focused on appearing safe, not actually being safe,” the complaint states.

So what do Uber drivers have to provide? Not much. Each driver is required to provide a name and social security number, but no biometric information such as fingerprints. Whereas the taxi industry does a background check against the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s database, Uber uses public databases for their background checks, the complaint states.

“Uber relies on these flawed background checks as its sole method for screening out ill-intentioned drivers. It does not meet its drivers in person or online. It does not interview them. It does not require any references. It does not contact prior employers. There are no drug and alcohol tests. There are no exams,” the attorneys write.

One of the more startling concerns listed in the complaint states that Uber touts a safe ride for women drivers, but when drunk riders complain about sexual assault in court, “Uber uses the fact of their intoxication to question their credibility,” it reads.


Full Story: KTVU February 16 2024

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