550 women sue Uber over allegations including kidnapping and sexual assault

NEW DELHIEdited By: Nikhil PandeyUpdated: Jul 14, 2022, 07:36 PM IST

A driver opening the Uber app on a mobile phone while checking the route inside his car Photograph:(AFP)

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The law firm Slater Slater Schulman filed a civil action lawsuit on Wednesday in San Francisco County Superior Court alleging that female passengers had been "kidnapped, sexually assaulted, sexually battered, raped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed, or otherwise attacked by Uber drivers" in multiple states. The law company claimed it was currently looking at at least 150 other claims from its 550 or so clients who have filed lawsuits against the industry titan of ride-hailing.

Around 550 American women who use the ride-hailing service to book rides are suing Uber on the grounds that drivers there sexually assaulted them. The complaint, which was submitted on Wednesday, claims that female passengers who had been matched with Uber drivers through the app had been "kidnapped, sexually assaulted, sexually battered, raped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed, or otherwise attacked" by those drivers in a number of different states.

These most recent allegations came just days after the so-called Uber Files, a cache of more than 124,000 documents covering the years 2013 to 2017 that reveal the company's history of illegal activity, covert lobbying, and unethical behaviour, were made public.

"Putting growth before safety"

The lawsuit claims that despite knowing that its drivers were raping and sexually abusing female passengers as early as 2014, sexual predators operating under the Uber brand continued to target victims. In its place, Uber is charged with putting "expansion over customer safety".

Watch | The Full Context: Leaked documents shed light on the ruthless expansion tactics of Uber

According to Adam Slater, founding partner of Slater Slater Schulman, "Uber's entire business model is built on providing individuals with a safe ride home, yet rider safety was never their focus – growth was, at the expense of their passengers' safety."

Although the firm has just addressed the sexual assault crisis, its real response has been delayed and insufficient, leading to terrible outcomes.

The complaint was filed in response to Uber's release of its second US Safety Report, which stated that there will be 998 reported instances of sexual assault in 2020, including 141 accusations of rape.

In addition, the report stated that in 2019 and 2020, Uber has received 3,824 reports of the five most serious types of sexual assault. These include rape as well as "non-consensual sexual penetration" or "non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual bodily area." In its inaugural safety report, which covers the years 2017 and 2018, the ride-hailing app discovered 5,981 incidents of sexual assault in these five categories.

(With inputs from agencies)


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