UPDATED 6:50 PM PT – Thursday, July 14, 2022
Rideshare giant Uber faces a civil suit from more than 550 women who claimed the company failed to place safeguards to protect its customers. On Wednesday, the law firm representing the women said they were kidnapped, sexually assaulted, battered, raped, stalked, harassed and or otherwise attacked by an Uber driver.
The suit stems from allegations beginning in 2014 and claimed Uber was aware of the alleged incidents but failed to act putting expansion over rider’s safety. The law firm claimed that Uber overlooked typical background check standards in the interest of more quickly onboarding new drivers.
“Uber’s whole business model is predicated on giving people a safe ride home, but rider safety was never their concern, growth was, at the expense of their passenger’s safety,” Adam Slater, founding partner of Slater Slater Schulman said. “While the company has acknowledged this crisis of sexual assault in recent years, its actual response has been slow and inadequate, with horrific consequences.”
An Uber spokesperson told Fortune that the company seeks to prioritize passenger safety and takes seriously “every single report” of sexual assault. The newer safety features include the ability for riders to call or text 911 through the Uber app, Ride Check to monitor if a trip has gone off-course or if perhaps a crash has occurred, GPS tracking and background checks on drivers. The company said last year it also started sharing information with its rideshare rival Lyft about drivers who have been deactivated from the platform for safety issues.
“There is nothing more important than safety,” the spokesperson said. “Which is why Uber has built new safety features, established survivor-centric policies and been more transparent about serious incidents. While we can’t comment on pending litigation, we will continue to keep safety at the heart of our work.”
According to Uber, drivers are vetted through background checks and annual evaluations. Despite that more than 3,800 safety reports were filed in 2019 and 2020.