West joined Uber in October 2017 after previously serving as associate attorney general during the Obama administration. 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. The app's terms of service require any rider with a complaint against the company, even of sexual assault, to commit to arbitration, essentially private courtrooms where a company typically has the edge in any litigation. As with the arbitration change, this will apply to cases now pending and cases moving forward.
Uber has faced questions about how often its drivers assault or harass passengers.
Uber is working with experts focused on sexual violence to come up with reporting standards. "We want to bring these numbers out in the open". In fact, there is no data to reliably or accurately compare reports against Uber drivers versus taxi drivers or limo drivers, or Uber versus buses, subways, airplanes or trains. CNN's analysis came from an in-depth review of police reports, federal court records and county court databases for 20 major U.S. cities. Several of those drivers have been convicted, and multiple cases are pending.
The individual reports from across the country show a range of crimes, from victims being kidnapped and raped to trapped in cars with electronic locks by their drivers.
Police say after dropping off a female passenger at her West Oak Cliff home, Chammout followed the woman inside, hit her over the head and sexually assaulted her.
It may also spur more complaints.
There is no publicly available data for the number of sexual assaults by Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare companies.
Uber has "so much money that they are willing to allow customers to sue them in court for what happens to them, but they are not willing to make the changes which would make the customers safe", said Jean Christensen, the lawyer representing the nine victims.
However, asked about the 14 women who wrote a letter to Uber's board asking for release from the arbitration provision in order to pursue a class action lawsuit, West suggested the new policy did not apply.
But we have learned it's important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims.
Arbitration has an important role in the American justice system and includes many benefits for individuals and companies alike.
The company has faced criticism from regulators over its safety policies, as well as lawsuits from women who say the firm did not do enough to protect against sexual assault.
Beyond Uber, there's been a push to cut back on the use of forced arbitration by employers. Uber faced a reckoning of its own past year after former software engineer Susan Fowler wrote a poignant blog post documenting harassment she faced there. Alongside the California Labor Federation, the Economic Policy Institute and California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, Fowler introduced a relevant bill in mid-April, while adding on Twitter she's "not going to stop until forced arbitration is no longer allowed".