Uber strikes out confidentiality deal for s3xual assault victims

Tony West now Uber's chief legal officer back in 2014 when he worked in the Justice Department under Eric Holder

Uber said Tuesday it would end a policy requiring arbitration over claims of sexual misconduct involving employees, riders and drivers, allowing cases to be heard in public and pursued in court.

Giving victims of sexual assault or perceived sexual harassment more options sends an important message that Uber is taking the issue more seriously, said Kristen Houser, a spokeswoman for Raliance, a coalition of groups working with Uber to prevent sexual abuse on its service.

The new policy applies to Uber employees and drivers as well.

Uber says it's putting safety at the core of everything it does. Survivors of sexual misconduct can also settle claims with Uber without having to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Uber also said it plans to release a report as early as next year on the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault on the platform - a move that follows a class-action lawsuit in California that alleges the $72 billion company has failed to protect passengers from sexual predators.

Additionally, if someone is unfortunately subjected to sexual harassment or assault, no matter how they seek to adjudicate that claim (whether arbitration, mediation, or traditional litigation in a public court) Uber won't force them to agree to stay quiet about their experience.

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Now, riders can take sexual harassment or assault claims to the venue of their choosing, according to CNN. West added, "I want to thank (CNN) for the reporting that you've done on this issue". Hearings have the trappings of a court hearing-arbitrators are often retired judges-except that they are wholly private. As with the arbitration change, this will apply to cases now pending and cases moving forward.

CNN did not include most of these complaints in its tally of cases because they could not all be verified with incident reports.

The company says it will lean on hired advisors such as Ebony Tucker of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Cindy Southworth of the National Network to End Domestic Violence and Tina Tchen, a founder of the New York Time's Up Legal Defense Fund.

West said the company struggled with the decision to commit to a safety transparency report for its rides, because he knows that it will be "disturbing" when the actual number of assaults that happen on Uber is announced? in part because of the companys size and the ease with which customers can report an incident. Not long after he took the job late past year, he wrote his own blog post in which he proclaimed: "We do the right thing".

Uber has to formally decide by Wednesday whether it will require the women in the proposed class action suit to carry out their assault claims in forced arbitration.

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