Earlier this week, The Guardian published the Uber files, which contained over 124,000 confidential documents, which outlined how Uber broke the law, tricked law enforcement, secretly lobbied governments around the world and even put its drivers in danger for the sake of its own growth.
Now, a lawsuit involving around 550 women across the US was filed against Uber on Wednesday. The women say that they were sexually assaulted by drivers on the ride-hailing platform, and their legal counsel says another 150 claims are still being investigated. This lawsuit comes two weeks after the company released its second safety report for 2019 and 2020, which said that compared to its first safety report looking at incidents in 2017 and 2018, reported sexual assaults reduced by 38%. But 2020 was also the year of the pandemic, so it’s not known whether the reduction was because of a decrease in rides. Still, Uber maintains in lawsuits that it can’t be held responsible for what drivers on its platforms do because, to Uber, these individuals are contractors not employees.
“Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber") today has been named in a civil action alleging that women passengers in multiple states were kidnapped, sexually assaulted, sexually battered, raped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed, or otherwise attacked by Uber drivers with whom they had been paired through the Uber application,” read the press release issued by law firm Slater Slater Schulman.
“Uber’s whole business model is predicated on giving people a safe ride home, but rider safety was never their concern – growth was, at the expense of their passengers’ safety," said Adam Slater, Founding Partner of Slater Slater Schulman LLP. “While the company has acknowledged this crisis of sexual assault in recent years, its actual response has been slow and inadequate, with horrific consequences."
“Sexual assault is a horrific crime, and we take every single report seriously,” an Uber spokesperson said in response to the lawsuit.