The rehabilitation of Uber moved a step further Tuesday with the company’s announcement that its ride-hailing contract would no longer bar riders from pursuing allegations of sexual assault or other misconduct in court.
The decision by the San Francisco ride-hailing pioneer to drop its insistence on mandatory arbitration for such claims was followed by Lyft, Reuters reported.
The move — which has been hinted at earlier this year by Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi — means that riders will now be able to pursue allegations of sexual assault, harassment or other misconduct in court or in mediation.
“Arbitration has an important role in the American justice system and includes many benefits for individuals and companies alike,” the company announced on its website. “Arbitration is not a settlement (cases are decided on their merits), and, unless the parties agree to keep the process confidential, it does not prevent survivors from speaking out about their experience. But we have learned it’s important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims.”
The decision comes as Uber’s new chief executive works to clean up the ride-hailing company’s image. Last month, Khosrowshahi said Uber would more closely monitor driver backgrounds. It also took steps to enhance safety through initiatives that will put riders in touch more quickly and effectively with the authorities in the event of an emergency.
The issue of mandatory arbitration gained attention after a group of women who filed a class-action suit against Uber over alleged sexual misconduct urged the company to release them from the mandatory-arbitration clause in the contract. The lawsuit alleges that the company had created a service that was conducive to sexual assault, harassment and abuse of women.