Weeks after a CNN investigation uncovered more than 100 sexual assault accusations against Uber drivers, the ride-sharing giant announced sweeping changes to its legal policies surrounding sexual misconduct. Uber on Tuesday announced it would no longer require mandatory arbitration in sexual assault or sexual harassment cases against Uber riders, drivers or employees, allowing those who make such claims to pursue the case in court.

Chief Legal Officer Tony West outlined the changes in a blog post on Uber’s website, the most pertinent details of which also appeared on the company’s Twitter account.

Prior to the announcement, Uber’s terms of service required all allegations of this nature against drivers to be arbitrated outside of court. Critics saw it as a way for Uber to keep the issues under wraps. Indeed, CNN’s investigation shed new light on the issue as Uber never released official statistics pertaining to alleged sexual assault by its drivers.

After Tuesday’s change, victims can take their individual claims to arbitration, mediation or open court. The company also stated it would allow them to settle claims without a confidentiality provision, which previously stopped them from “speaking about the facts of the sexual assault or sexual harassment they suffered,” West wrote.

Uber will also start publishing data on sexual assault and other safety concerns that occur under its watch. Lawsuits against the company alleged that Uber sought to hide the size of the problem by not being transparent, but West claims that policy will end shortly.

“Together, we can make meaningful progress towards ending sexual violence,” West wrote. “Our commitment to you is that when we say we stand for safety, we mean it.”

Uber announced a host of changes to its policies in the wake of a CNN investigation into sexual assault claims against its drivers. The Uber logo is seen outside the Uber Corporate Headquarters building in San Francisco, California on February 05, 2018. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

In their April 30 investigation, CNN found 103 accusations of assault or abuse by Uber drivers in court records and police reports in the absence of official company data. The report left open the possibility that countless more incidents existed, as sexual assault cases often go unreported.

Law firm Wigdor LLP proposed a class-action lawsuit in November on behalf of nine women who made accusations against Uber drivers. Uber is mandated to respond by Wednesday.

In a statement, Wigdor partner Jeanne M. Christensen applauded Uber for ending forced arbitration but noted the new policies only applied to individual claims.

“Congratulations to Uber for choosing not to silence survivors. Our hope is that Uber ending forced arbitration for victims of sexual assault will begin a process to reduce future suffering by women passengers. Uber has made a critical step in this direction, but preventing victims from proceeding together, on a class basis, shows that Uber is not fully committed to meaningful change. Victims are more likely to come forward knowing they can proceed as a group. This is the beginning of a longer process needed to meaningfully improve safety.”


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