Uber will no longer force victims of sexual assault into arbitration

Tony West now Uber's chief legal officer back in 2014 when he worked in the Justice Department under Eric Holder

Bloomberg via Getty Images Tony West now Uber's chief legal officer back in 2014 when he worked in the Justice Department under Eric Holder

Uber will no longer make its drivers, customers and employees go through forced arbitration when they lodge sexual assault or harassment claims against the ride-hailing service, the company announced Tuesday.

The news came one day ahead of a court-mandated deadline for Uber to respond in a proposed class action lawsuit filed by law firm Wigdor LLP on behalf of nine women accusing drivers of sexual assault.

"When it comes to sexual assault, sexual harassment, one of the things we learned is it's very important to make sure that survivors have control and agency, and we want to be able to give them the choice of form", West said Tuesday, only on "CBS This Morning". 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. "They will be free to tell their story wherever and however they see fit".

According to some media reports, Uber was accused of trying to force women who say they were sexually assaulted by drivers to resolve their claims behind closed doors rather than in the courts, a move that critics say silences victims and shields the company from public scrutiny.

The company added it would publish a safety transparency report that will include data on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on the Uber platform.

The company will no longer require confidentiality as part of settlement agreements in lawsuits pertaining to sexual assault or harassment. Putting transparency, integrity and accountability at the core of everything we do.

He also flags the problem of crimes of sexual violence being underreported.

Uber is changing how it handles assault claims.

There is no publicly available data for the number of sexual assaults by Uber drivers or drivers of other rideshare companies. "We want to bring these numbers out in the open". And in a Twitter exchange in March Khosrowshahi signaled he was willing to consider ending forced arbitration.

"So we're making it clear that Uber will not require confidentiality provisions or non-disclosure agreements to prevent survivors from talking about the facts of what happened to them. We know that a project of this magnitude will take some time, but we pledge to keep you updated along the way".

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