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15 May 2018, 10:17 | Brenda Erickson
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has made company culture a priority
Uber, acknowledging that "sexual violence remains a huge problem globally", will no longer require sexual assault and harassment victims to go through arbitration, the ride-hailing company said Tuesday. This sudden change to Uber's terms of service comes just two weeks after an investigation revealed that over the past four years, 103 Uber drivers in the United States alone have been accused of sexual misconduct. Now, survivors can choose to pursue their claims in arbitration, mediation or open court.
The changes governing sexual misconduct come a month after Uber announced it will do criminal background checks on its USA drivers annually and add a 911 button for summoning help in emergencies.
Previously, upon signing up for Uber's service, Uber says users agreed to resolve any claims on an individual basis through arbitration.
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"Divulging the details of what happened in a sexual assault or harassment should be up to the survivor, not us", Uber said.
Additionally, it will publish a "safety transparency report" that will put numbers behind sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on its platform.
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.
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Last August, Khosrowshahi was hired amid a wave of revelations and allegations about rampant sexual harassment in Uber's workforce, a cover-up of a massive data breach, dirty tricks and stolen trade secrets. "I want to thank (CNN) for the reporting that you've done on this issue". In March 2018, Uber came under fire after court records showed it had tried to push the women in that case toward individual arbitration.
West said he expected the number of reported assaults to increase in the first six to nine months after reporting the initial figures because "people will see that we are paying attention, that we are counting, that we looking to act on this data and that will encourage more reporting".
And the company gained a reputation for sexism past year after a viral blog post from a former engineer, according to The Washington Post. She joined California lawmakers in April to introduce a state bill that would ban forced arbitration.
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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. That means victims who wish to file lawsuits about harassment will still have to do so individually, and will still not be able to bring a case on behalf of many plaintiffs.
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