Uber Won't Force Sexual Misconduct Survivors Into Arbitration Anymore

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Uber will no longer make its drivers, customers and employees go through forced arbitration when they lodge sexual assault or harassment claims against the ride-hailing service, the company announced Tuesday.

Uber also said it planned to publish a safety transparency report that would provide data on sexual assaults and other episodes that take place on the "Uber platform".

Uber's ride-hailing service will give its USA passengers and drivers more leeway to pursue claims of sexual misconduct, its latest attempt to reverse its reputation for brushing aside bad behavior. It was even part of the company's Terms of Use agreement.

Following CNN's investigation and the letter, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from CT, challenged Uber's use of forced arbitration and in a letter to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi "respectfully requested" the company end the practice.

Uber is now facing a class action lawsuit in the United States for poor driver vetting that has led to a series of sexual harassment incidents, including rape.

"Victims are more likely to come forward knowing they can proceed as a group". Uber said the women will now have the choice of bringing their individual assault claims to arbitration, meditation or open court.

Uber's Chief Legal Officer, Tony West, told CNN in a statement: "We think it is very, very important to allow survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment the control and agency that was, frankly, stripped from them in that incident". 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. Now those who agree to settlements will not be required to sign confidentiality agreements.

And on the new transparency report, West admits Uber struggled with the decision to publish data - saying this is "because data on safety and sexual assaults is sparse and inconsistent", and there is no uniform industry standard for reporting it.

There is no publicly available data for the number of sexual assaults by Uber drivers or drivers of other rideshare companies. It isn't clear if the announcement and report are related. The company is working with experts to develop categories for reported incidents, which West wrote in a blog post would "take some time".