A 14-count complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday said Uber is responsible for sexual assaults, rapes, and harassment perpetrated by drivers the doe women plaintiffs were paired with through Uber’s ride-hailing application. The complaint faults Uber not only for the physical assaults, but also for the “toxic-male culture at Uber that caused these sexual attacks.”
The plaintiffs are five adult women from California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Texas who claim they were attacked by an Uber driver during an Uber ride. Their lawsuit details Uber’s alleged awareness of the problem beginning in 2014. Yet, its response to the “ongoing sexual assaults by Uber drivers has been slow and inadequate,” the complaint ventures.
Instead, the plaintiffs claim that rider safety was never a concern of Uber’s, whereas bottomline growth was. By way of example, Uber allegedly flouted taxi industry background check standards by using a fast service and also abandoning fingerprinting, which takes weeks to complete, failing to run applicant drivers against private databases, such as FBI records, and declining to provide on-the-job training.
The complaint argues that Uber’s slipshod policies were perpetuated by its leaders, like former CEO Travis Kalanick, who also allegedly ignored or tried to suppress corporate sexual harrassment-related issues, culminating in several scandals.
In turn, Uber tried to “buff its tarnished reputation.” Among other efforts, Uber hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate its company culture and work-place environment. The findings revealed “‘a winding, repetitive list of infractions that had occurred across hundreds of global offices, including sexual assault and physical violence,’” the lawsuit reports.
The complaint says Uber cannot escape liability by turning a blind eye to criminal acts perpetrated by its drivers. The lawsuit states claims for negligence and negligent hiring, vicarious liability for assault and battery, and product liability.
The doe plaintiffs are represented by Slater Slater Schulman LLP.