The peer to peer ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft each decided to end forced arbitration for cases involving the sexual assault of passengers, employees, or drivers.
An announcement was made on Tuesday by Tony West, the chief legal officer for Uber via the website maintained by the company pertaining to the policy change. Lyft followed their lead almost immediately with a similar announcement of its own.
West expressed an acknowledgment on the part of Uber that victims of sexual assaults should be allowed to pursue their claims in the manner that they choose. West went on to say that Uber will be supportive of any decisions made by all alleged victims whether deciding to handle their cases privately through arbitration or opt instead to taking actions that include higher visibility.
The announcements follow a letter from 14 women a month ago requesting to be released from arbitration restrictions by the Uber board and allowed to pursue legal remedies as part of a class action lawsuit. The women wish to formally complain that it was an inadequate process for screening drivers of Uber that precipitated their victimizations.
An additional component of the new procedures is that Uber will no longer be allowed to require nondisclosure agreements to be signed by any sexual assault or harassment claims resulting from involvement with the company. Alleged victims will be allowed to speak openly of their claims and Uber plans to publish reports pertaining information on sexual abuses and other incidents that take place as part of the Uber platform.
West, while speaking recently with media sources, says that Uber becomes better at handling these issues by creating an environment where total transparency is the norm.
Lyft expressed their support of the moves made by Uber in a prepared statement that was published in the Corporate Counsel. The statement made by Lyft characterized it as a “good” decision on the part of Uber to make adjustments to company policy regarding the handling of sexual assault allegations.