Uber is facing another proposed class action lawsuit brought by two women who were allegedly assault by their drivers in Miami and Los Angeles, saying the company puts profits over the safety of their riders by not properly vetting its drivers.
In the class action complaint filed Tuesday, the two unnamed plaintiffs claim the ride share company engaged in unlawful and “fraudulent” practices that led them to believe their Uber drivers would safely transport them to their destinations, but instead they were allegedly assaulted. According to the women, Uber fails to conduct proper background checks on their drivers, allowing for a “system” in which “bad actors can gain access to vulnerable victims.”
According to the lawsuit, Plaintiff Jane Doe 1 ordered an Uber to ride home with a friend from a restaurant on October 17, 2016. The plaintiff was intoxicated and barely conscious when she was transported to her home in South Miami. A series of events occurred which led the plaintiff to believe she had been raped and reported it to the police. The Uber driver, who had previous felony charge, was subsequently arrested and admitted to raping Doe. The case is pending in Miami-Dade Count, the complaint says.
The California case alleges that Plaintiff Jane Doe 2 was picked up alone after ordering an Uber ride and fell asleep in the backseat of the car. She claims she woke up during the alleged assault. Both plaintiffs say they reported the incidences to Uber but that company failed to “take appropriate action”. The lawsuit states that the $69 billion ride share giant likens itself as a designated driver for riders who may have one too many drinks, when it actuality it fails to screen drivers and puts their safety at risk.
“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired. Nothing meaningful has been done to make rides safer for passengers — especially women. This is no longer an issue of “rogue” drivers who act unlawfully,” the complaint reads.
Specifically, the women claim Uber only screen drivers going back 7 years and that it uses a credit-reporting system, not a fingerprint background check. They are requesting an injunction against Uber that would mandate the company to implement stricter background checks, including fingerprint background checks on its drivers. In addition, the complaint seeks to prohibit registered sex offenders or those convicted of assault or rape from driving for Uber.
However, Uber has held the position that since it’s a “technology platform” and its drivers are independent contractors, they are not subject to the same legal requirements as an employee would be, including inclusive background checks. The proposed class action lawsuit is calling upon the company to “make drastic changes” to protect its female riders from sexual harassment and rape.
Uber is no stranger to legal battles concerning sexual harassment. The accusations brought in this latest class action lawsuit are similar to those in a 2014 case pending in India, where a woman claims not only was she raped by an Uber driver but that Uber executives attempted to discredit her by illegally obtaining her medical records. And, just last month, a class action lawsuit was filed against the company by female software engineers alleging they were discriminated against because of their gender. Thesays the ride sharing company compensates and fails to promote its female employees less than their male counterparts.
The plaintiffs are represented by Anderson & Poole P.C. in San Francisco and Widgor Law LLP in New York.
The Uber Sexual Assault Class Action Lawsuit is Doe 1 et al. v. Uber Technologies Inc., Case No. 3:17-cv-06571 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.