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Millions of people have relied on Uber to get where they need to go. But not everyone arrives at their destination safely. Reporting and analysis by CNN reveals that over 100 Uber drivers have been accused of sexual assault or abuse over the past four years. With criminal charges, civil suits, and even class action lawsuits pending, customers are wondering what changes are being made, and Uber is promising to be part of the solution.
Accusations, Arrests, and Convictions
CNN's account analyzed police reports, federal court records, and county court databases for 20 major U.S. cities and found that 103 drivers were arrested, wanted by law enforcement, or named in civil suits. At least 31 of those were convicted for crimes ranging from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape.
In a particularly heinous case, an Uber driver was sentenced to 80 years in prison for the rape of one of his passengers, plus 33 other counts which included sexual assaults of at least nine other women and children.
Civil Suits and Forced Arbitration
Victims are not only vital to the criminal charges brought against Uber drivers who commit assault, they also bring civil cases against their attackers and Uber as well. Some claim negligent hiring on Uber's part, arguing that the company failed to properly screen their workers.
A class action lawsuit currently pending against the company represents nine plaintiffs who say they were assaulted by Uber drivers. They are also arguing that Uber is attempting to silence them by enforcing the terms of service every customer agrees to. Those terms include a clause which says any claim against the company will be resolved on an individual basis in arbitration (i.e. no class actions or trials).
According to CNN, Uber conducts its own digital background checks using Checkr, a startup. Checkr looks at driving and criminal histories in national, state, and local databases which include the national sex offender site. Uber makes the final decision about applicants, and says they won't approve someone who has a conviction for a felony, violent crime, or sexual offense in the last seven years.
The company calls the problem a "societal issue" but says it wants to be "part of the solution." As part of their efforts, they will be rerunning driver background checks annually, and adding some safety features to the app.
If you were a victim of assault, speak with an attorney to discuss your options for taking legal action.