Ridesharing Companies Decide To End Mandatory Arbitration In Response To Claims Of Sexual Assault

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.

Waymo Takes Aim at Uber

In the high-tech world, secrets are everything. Being able to protect your own ideas can mean the difference in millions or perhaps even billions of dollars. In San Francisco, an epic battle between Waymo and Uber is unfolding. Soon, jurors will hear the case in which Waymo accuses Uber of stealing some of their technology.

Even though many have never heard of Waymo, it’s actually one of the companies that did the best during the dot-com boom. It’s a spinoff of Google, a fact which is key to this case. Now as its own company, it focuses on self-driving cars.

Anthony Levandowski was one of the early engineers who worked on Google’s self-driving car team. Over several years, Google developed technology related to light detection and ranging (LIDAR). “Lidar”, as it’s called in the industry, allows autonomous vehicles to precisely detect the presence of objects.

Levandowski left Google in January of 2016, along with 14,000 files that he downloaded. He then took the role as the leader of the autonomous vehicle team at Uber, allegedly using stolen information to develop their abilities. Around the same time, he founded his own firm, Ottomotto, which Uber acquired for approximately $680 million in 2016.

Waymo is now bringing a lawsuit against Uber because they claim that Uber stole trade secrets. One of the issues that will come into play is what type of information should be considered trade secrets and what should be considered part of the free flow of ideas.

Levandowski was later fired by Uber in May of 2017. He was let go because he did not cooperate with the company’s legal defense in this case. He is expected to continue to hold steadfast on his position and is predicted to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights if called to the stand.