More than 500 female passengers have filed a lawsuit against U.S.-based rideshare transportation service Uber, alleging that they were sexually assaulted by contracted drivers.
In a complaint filed by San Francisco-based law firm Slater Slater Schulman LLP on Thursday, the women allege that they were “kidnapped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed and raped” among other incidents by drivers on the transportation platform.
The lawsuit also claims that Uber, founded in 2009, was aware of the severity of the reported incidents of misconduct of some of the drivers on their platform since 2014, Bloomberg News reported.
In a statement to the media outlet, Slater Slater Schulman’s partner Adam Slater said that Uber’s approach to reported incidents was “slow and inadequate,” noting that the company could’ve adapted more ways to address the issue.
“While the company has acknowledged this crisis of sexual assault in recent years, its actual response has been slow and inadequate, with horrific consequences,” Slater said in a statement. “There is so much more that Uber can be doing to protect riders: adding cameras to deter assaults, performing more robust background checks on drivers, creating a warning system when drivers don’t stay on a path to a destination.”
The lawsuit comes weeks after Uber filed its own safety report, detailing that it has received up to 3,824 sexual assault reports from rideshares in the U.S. between 2019 and 2020.
The safety report cited the 38 percent decline in the reported incidents as due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but noted that the company has improved its safety measures due to recent investments and strengthening background checks as well.
Former Uber employee Mark MacGann, who last week leaked the “Uber Files,” which contained up to more than 124,000 internal documents that revealed the company’s mishandling of misconduct, said in an interview that he felt “partly responsible” for the inappropriate activity within the company.
“I was the one talking to governments, I was the one pushing this with the media, I was the one telling people that they should change the rules because drivers were going to benefit and people were going to get so much economic opportunity,” MacGann told the Guardian newspaper.
In a statement to The Hill, an Uber spokesperson said that the company takes every single report of sexual assault “seriously.”
“There is nothing more important than safety, which is why Uber has built new safety features, established survivor-centric policies, and been more transparent about serious incidents,” the spokesperson told The Hill. “While we can’t comment on pending litigation, we will continue to keep safety at the heart of our work.”
The Hill has reached out to Slater Slater Schulman LLP for comment and more information.