The lawsuit was filed by two anonymous women, including a Florida woman who police say was raped by an Uber driver after he took her home. The class action lawsuit against Uber alleges assault by Uber drivers. Another lawsuit was brought in 2015 by a women who was raped by an Uber driver in India.
For a detailed account of Uber's background check policies, read the Recode piece. "These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously", Uber said in a statement.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses Uber of repeatedly fighting efforts to improve customer safety in states across the country and names MA and Maryland as examples where its failures to adequately screen drivers were allegedly exposed. The complaint cites accounts of assault by Uber drivers shared as part of the #MeToo movement; failures of background checks, including the registration as an Uber driver of the truck driver in the terrorist attack in NY on October 31; the debate over whether Uber drivers are employees of Uber; and misleading advertising from Uber about "safe rides". The suit claims that this isn't a case of "rogue" drivers, but that Uber has created a system that allows for "bad actors to gain access to vulnerable victims". Reports of alleged sexual assaults by Uber drivers make news headlines several times a month.
In Massachusetts, more than 8,000 Uber and Lyft drivers failed state screening despite passing Uber and rival Lyft's background checks, according to the suit.
However, the case hinges on issues the ride-hail company, which is no stranger to legal battles, has long fought across the globe: Background checks and being treated like other for-hire companies.
Uber has successfully opposed state or national attempts at mandating fingerprint background checks in many markets, with the notable exception of NY and London.
Uber's website says the company is "dedicated to keeping people safe on the road" and that its technology "enables us to focus on rider safety before, during and after every trip". "This self-serving guise has added to Uber's ability to avoid spending more money on driver screening both before and after hiring, and to avoid regulatory measures directed at safety during ride". The executive named Eric Alexander, who has since been fired, carted those files around for a year.
The lawsuit wants Uber to change how it screens drivers and consider other changes on behalf of the riders. In addition to allegations raised by the plaintiffs and news reports of incidents in various cities and states around the country, the lawsuit cites complaints highlighted over social media through the #MeToo campaign, which raises awareness of sexual harassment and its prevalence in workplaces and other facets of life.