Uber ends forced arbitration for sex assault, harassment claims

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has made company culture a priority

Along with the ending of forced arbitration agreements, Uber also says that it plans to release a report about the sexual harassment and assault incidents that occur during use of its services, yet no date for that report has been announced. Going forward, Uber says it will now let victims, including passengers as well as drivers and employees, choose the venue in which to pursue their grievance, including the courts.

Critics have been pressuring the company to change the practice, the Times said. "So we're making it clear that Uber will not require confidentiality provisions or non-disclosure agreements to prevent survivors from talking about the facts of what happened to them".

The policy change comes after a recent CNN investigation focusing on the assaut and abuse accusations against drivers.

In an interview, West, a former Justice Department official who joined Uber in November, said its new policy applied to people now in arbitration with Uber over sexual assault of harassment claims.

Forced arbitration is common to many industries and allows companies to keep sexual misconduct claims out of the court system and away from public view, the Times said.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

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While scandals at Uber's corporate offices have taken center stage, the company has also faced plenty of other well-publicized harassment and assault allegations from members of its ride-hailing platform. That would include rides and deliveries, as well as incidents that happen before pickup or after drop-off.

Finally, West said the company would "commit" to publishing a "safety transparency report", as a way to "turn the lights on" against this scourge.

West said he expected the number of reported assaults to increase in the first six to nine months after reporting the initial figures because "people will see that we are paying attention, that we are counting, that we looking to act on this data and that will encourage more reporting". Not long after he took the job late a year ago, he wrote his own blog post in which he proclaimed: "We do the right thing".

Arbitration has the look of a court hearing but are held in private and don't have the option of class-action claims.

In April, California state leaders introduced a bill that would bar companies from requiring workers to settle complaints in arbitration. The company's revised policies, in addition to not being applied retroactively, also don't apply to class-action claims. "What's most important is for individual survivors to be able to tell their individual stories".

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