Uber frees U.S. victims of sexual assault and harassment from mandatory arbitration

Uber frees U.S. victims of sexual assault and harassment from mandatory arbitration

On Tuesday morning, Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer, published a lengthy blog post proclaiming the end of mandatory arbitration for anyone (driver, rider, employee) associated with a claim of sexual assault or sexual harassment. So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer: in a mediation where they can choose confidentiality; in arbitration, where they can choose to maintain their privacy while pursuing their case; or in open court.

Last month, Uber announced that they would start performing annual criminal background checks on US drivers, hire a company to constantly monitor criminal arrests and add a 911 button to get help in case of emergency.

The trial begins today for a former North Texas Uber driver accused of sexually assaulting a passenger in 2015. The company has also stated that the policy applies only to cases involving sexual assault and harassment; other cases, such as racial and gender discrimination complaints, will still be resolved through private administration.

"Divulging the details of what happened in a sexual assault or harassment should be up to the survivor, not us", West said. Now those who agree to settlements will not be required to sign confidentiality agreements.

Finally, West said the company would "commit" to publishing a "safety transparency report", as a way to "turn the lights on" against this scourge. That means that the group of aforementioned women will have to resort to individual claims if they intend to sue Uber in open court.

Uber's arbitration policy had previously been challenged in lawsuits, according to CNN. The company gained a reputation for rampant sexism a year ago after Susan Fowler, a former engineer, wrote a viral blog post about harassment and retaliation she said she faced on the job.

While scandals at Uber's corporate offices have taken center stage, the company has also faced plenty of other well-publicized harassment and assault allegations from members of its ride-hailing platform.

In April, California state leaders introduced a bill that would bar companies from requiring workers to settle complaints in arbitration. "What's most important is for individual survivors to be able to tell their individual stories".