Uber announced that it changed the way it handles sexual assault claims via a blog post by Tony West, Chief Legal Officer who noted that sexual violence remains a huge problem globally. The last 18 months have exposed a silent epidemic of sexual assault and harassment that haunts every industry and every community. There have been cases of reported rape, sexual assault and convictions. CNN reports that 103 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault.
Uber will no longer require mandatory arbitration for individual claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by Uber riders, drivers or employees. Survivors will now have the option to settle their claims with Uber without a confidentiality provision that prevents them from speaking about the facts of the sexual assault or sexual harassment they suffered. Uber is commited to publishing a safety transparency report that will include data on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on the Uber platform.
“Dara recently said that sexual predators often look for a dark corner. Our message to the world is that we need to turn the lights on. It starts with improving our product and policies, but it requires so much more, and we’re in it for the long haul. Together, we can make meaningful progress towards ending sexual violence. Our commitment to you is that when we say we stand for safety, we mean it.”
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. Whatever they decide, they will be free to tell their story wherever and however they see fit.
Confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements also have an appropriate role in resolving legal disputes. Often they help expedite resolution because they give both sides comfort that certain information (such as the settlement amount) will remain confidential. And frequently, survivors insist on broad confidentiality in order to preserve their privacy.
But divulging the details of what happened in a sexual assault or harassment should be up to the survivor, not us. So we’re making it clear that Uber will not require confidentiality provisions or non-disclosure agreements to prevent survivors from talking about the facts of what happened to them. Whether to find closure, seek treatment, or become advocates for change themselves, survivors will be in control of whether to share their stories. Enabling survivors to make this choice will help to end the culture of silence that surrounds sexual violence.
Uber believes that transparency fosters accountability, sating that it was a decision we struggled to make, in part because data on safety and sexual assaults is sparse and inconsistent. In fact, there is no data to reliably or accurately compare reports against Uber drivers versus taxi drivers or limo drivers, or Uber versus buses, subways, airplanes or trains.
Ubere met more than 80 women’s groups and recruited advisors like Ebony Tucker of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Cindy Southworth of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Tina Tchen, one of the founders of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund and partner at Buckley Sandler LLP to advise us on these issues.
To report sexual assault Uber suggests if you or someone you know is seeking care and support, please consider contacting one of our partners (NO MORE, Raliance, National Network to End Domestic Violence, A CALL TO MEN, Casa de Esperanza, Women of Color Network, Inc. and The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs), or calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).