Uber will end its practice of mandatory arbitration for claims of sexual assault and harassment by riders, drivers or employees, the company said Tuesday.
"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", West wrote.
Lyft announced its new stance Tuesday, a few hours after Uber announced the same shift as part of its efforts to turn over a new leaf after a wave of revelations and allegations about its bad behavior.
Uber says it's putting safety at the core of everything it does.
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.
In an interview, West, a former Justice Department official who joined Uber in November, said its new policy applied to people now in arbitration with Uber over sexual assault of harassment claims. Forced arbitration agreements have been criticized because they allow companies to silence victims by making them settle disputes out of public courts.
"You want people to report lower-level infractions so you can nip them in the bud before they become bigger problems", she said.
Anyone using the Uber smartphone app to hail a ride was required to enter into confidential arbitration, even in the event of serious crimes, such as rape, committed by a driver. In March 2018, Uber came under fire after court records showed it had tried to push the women in that case toward individual arbitration. Now, customers can take those claims to court or join a class-action lawsuit, the company said. That would include rides and deliveries, as well as incidents that happen before pickup or after drop-off.
The company says it will lean on hired advisors such as Ebony Tucker of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Cindy Southworth of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Tina Tchen, a founder of the New York Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.
Uber has to formally decide by Wednesday whether it will require the women in the proposed class action suit to carry out their assault claims in forced arbitration. "We want to bring these numbers out in the open". Not long after he took the job late previous year, he wrote his own blog post in which he proclaimed: "We do the right thing".
In December, Microsoft announced it was eliminating forced arbitration agreements with employees who made sexual assault or harassment claims.
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