Uber has a long and tragic history of sexual abuse and that was among one of the reasons why co-founder Travis Kalanick had to let go of his position as the CEO of the company. But a much more shocking and upsetting facet of Uber’s personality has been exposed. As per recently revealed court documents from California, the ride-hailing company has argued that women who are sexually assaulted by Uber drivers must settle the case for arbitration with a condition of non-disclosure.
These records – belonging to a class-action lawsuit against Uber citing the lack of safety measures for women – have revealed that Uber has argued in court that its terms of conditions do not allow riders to sue the company over cases of sexual abuse. Attorneys representing the company said that passengers are required to settle cases of abuse outside the court. This is often accompanied by a clause of confidentiality that prevents such cases from coming to light, and thus, damaging Uber’s image.
Jeanne M Christensen, one of the attorneys representing the victims arguing against the arbitration clause, has said that the aim of this class-action suit is to “force Uber to acknowledge” the cases of assault and rape, and make it take responsibility for its drivers’ actions. The current mechanism, Christensen argues, allows serial offenders to walk freely while the women who are restricted by the non-disclosure agreements have to suffer the trauma in silence.
Christensen said the fact that women are not allowed to talk about their bad experience is what makes the incident more traumatic for them. The clause has also prevented female drivers from receiving justice in case of assault by male passengers.
In response, Uber’s spokesperson said that arbitration allows victims to open up about their distress while having “control over their individual privacy“. Uber’s reckless attitude is cannot be overlooked and the clause is present only because the company doesn’t want the (presumably) large number of cases coming out in the public as it may have a loss in terms of business or even loss of license for operating in a city.