Uber ends arbitration requirement for sex misconduct claims

While applauding Uber for making a "good decision", Lyft also made a veiled reference to the legal pressures that may have contributed to the change. Uber argued that the women will have to bring other claims in the suit, including unfair business practices, to an arbitrator.

The company also will not force survivors of sexual harassment or assault to sign nondisclosure agreements that prohibit them from talking about their experience, and the company promises to publicly release data about sexual assaults that are connected to Uber rides.

Uber has faced questions about how often its drivers assault or harass passengers.

From now on, however, individual victims-but still not a class-will be able to choose between open court and arbitration. And Uber will publish a "safety transparency report" within a year that includes data on sexual assaults and other incidents. This move comes two weeks after CNN published a report that found at least 103 Uber drivers in the US have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the last four years.

And last month, Fowler wrote an op-ed in The New York Times arguing that to fight sexual harassment, the US needs to bring an end to forced arbitration of sexual harassment cases - across the board.

A spokeswoman for Raliance stated that giving victims of sexual assault more options sends an important message that Uber is taking the issue more seriously. And in the midst of the #MeToo movement, advocates have singled out these stipulations as tools used to stifle women's stories of sexual harassment and assault.

Uber announced that the company will no longer require that sexual assault victims to go to mandatory arbitration.

In a statement to ABC News, West admitted that while the updated effort "won't apply to class-action suits", it "impacts the vast majority of assault claims we see on our platform". Uber faced a reckoning of its own past year after former software engineer Susan Fowler wrote a poignant blog post documenting harassment she faced there. She said this is the "beginning of a longer process needed to meaningfully improve safety".

But no more, says Uber. We agree with the changes and have removed the confidentiality requirement for sexual assault victims, as well as ended mandatory arbitration for those individuals so that they can choose which venue is best for them.

Following the reporter's examination and the letter, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from CT, challenged Uber's use of forced arbitration and in a letter to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi "respectfully asked for" the business end the practice.

Jeanne M. Christensen, the partner at Wigdor handling the case, said in a statement, "Congratulations to Uber for choosing not to silence survivors".

  • David Armstrong