Uber sued by women who allege they were raped by drivers

Toby Melville  ReutersUber app logo displayed on a mobile telephone Oct. 28 2016

Once again the globally renowned ride-hailing service, Uber is facing a lawsuit by two women, asking the court to force the company to change its driver screening and other practices on behalf of all USA riders.

The women, who are remaining anonymous, argue that due to an alleged lack of proper, thorough screenings by workers, certain customers of the service have been "subject to rape, sexual assault or gender-motivated violence or harassment by their Uber driver in the last four years".

It also cites former Uber employee Susan Fowler's blog post earlier this year that detailed a culture of sexual harassment and sexism at the company.

Jane Doe 1 lives in Miami and Jane Doe 2 lives in Los Angeles, according to the complaint, and both claim that they were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers. "These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously", the ride-hailing firm said in a statement.

It claims Uber not only failed to warn passengers about its flawed background checks, but that it doesn't adequately track its drivers' conduct after they're hired.

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The women from Florida and California are not identified in the federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Francisco. "The lawsuit claims that "thousands of female passengers have endured unlawful conduct by their Uber drivers" over the past seven years". "Nothing meaningful has been done to make rides safer for passengers - especially women". They include ways in which Uber can better screen its drivers, such as with in-person interviews, character checks, routine criminal background checks and fingerprint background checks.

Complaints about the validity of Uber's background checks is nothing new, of course.

"Uber has created a system for bad actors to gain access to vulnerable victims", the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit suggests a few ways in which Uber can better address sexual violence and harassment against women after it has already occurred. "Specifically drivers have the means and opportunity to veer off route without detection, trap passengers inside their vehicles and commit physical and sexual violence without witnesses". Abdallah was arrested that month and charged with two counts of sexual battery, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs want drivers to be required to report any indictments or charges against them related to sexual misconduct and physical or domestic violence to Uber within 24 hours.

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