More than 500 women in several states sue Uber, accusing drivers of sexual assault, harassment, kidnapping

The lawsuit alleges that the company was notified as early as 2014 that "Uber drivers were sexually assaulting and raping” female passengers.

More than 500 women are taking legal action against Uber Technologies Inc. (Uber), alleging that the company’s drivers sexually assaulted them.  

As reported by PEOPLE, the complaint was filed Wednesday in San Francisco County Superior Court by attorneys at Slater Slater Schulman LLP. The lawsuit alleges that the global transportation company was notified as early as 2014 that “Uber drivers were sexually assaulting and raping” female passengers in multiple states.

An Uber sign is displayed inside a car in Palatine, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The complaint claims that women passengers were “kidnapped, sexually assaulted, sexually battered, raped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed, and/or otherwise attacked by an Uber driver with whom they had been paired with through the Uber Application.”

“As early as 2014, Uber became aware that its drivers were sexually assaulting and raping female passengers; nevertheless, in the eight years since, sexual predators driving for Uber have continued to attack passengers, including the plaintiffs whose claims were alleged in today’s action,” the law firm said in a press release, CNBC reported. 

“While the company has acknowledged this crisis of sexual assault in recent years, its actual response has been slow and inadequate, with horrific consequences,” Adam Slater, a founding partner of Slater Slater Schulman, said in a statement, CNBC reported. 

“There is so much more that the company can be doing to protect riders: adding cameras to deter assaults, performing more robust background checks on drivers, creating a warning system when drivers don’t stay on a path to a destination,” Slater told PEOPLE in a statement. “But [Uber] refuse[s] to, and that’s why my firm has 550 clients with claims against Uber and we’re investigating at least 150 more.”

The complaint mentions Uber’s implementation of a Safe Rides Fee in 2014, in which riders were charged an extra dollar per trip “to ensure the safest possible platform for Uber riders and drivers.” The filing states that Uber has “failed to implement basic safety measures necessary to prevent these serious sexual assaults, which continue to occur to this day.”  

The civil action suit comes weeks after Uber released its second safety report stating that rider complaints about sexual assaults had dropped. As previously reported by theGrio, the data noted 141 reports of rape in 2020 on its platform. Additionally, in 2019 and 2020, it received 3,824 reports of the five most severe categories of sexual assault, according to CNN. That number is down from 5,981 claims in 2017 and 2018. 

The offenses Uber drivers have been accused of range from “non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part” to “non-consensual sexual penetration.” 

Uber’s latest safety report notes that the rate of sexual assault reported “had decreased by 38% from the 2017-2018 report,” per PEOPLE.

In 2020, Uber announced it would “expand sexual misconduct and assault education to all US drivers,” via its partnership with the sexual violence organization RAINN.

In a statement to PEOPLE, an Uber spokesperson noted that “sexual assault is a horrific crime and we take every single report seriously.”

“There is nothing more important than safety, which is why Uber has built new safety features, established survivor-centric policies, and been more transparent about serious incidents,” the statement continued. “While we can’t comment on pending litigation, we will continue to keep safety at the heart of our work.”

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