On the same day that Alison Turkos filed a lawsuit against Lyft alleging that after taking a ride through the service in 2017 she was transported across state lines and raped by at least two men, four other women filed lawsuits against the company for sexual misconduct.
All of the lawsuits, reported on by The Mercury News, accuse Lyft of knowing that its drivers were assaulting passengers but doing little to stop them or better screen candidates. The lawsuits describe incidents that occurred between 2017 to 2018 and range from assault to groping. Earlier this month, a whopping 14 women filed a lawsuit against Lyft, claiming the company mishandled their reports of being sexually assaulted or harassed, CBS News reported at the time. In one of those lawsuits, police found a driver had been allowed to drive even after he was convicted of assault.
But these lawsuits are just scratching the surface of the problems with ride sharing apps, when it comes to screening drivers and handling reports of sexual assault. An extensive CNN report published last year found 18 cases where Lyft drivers accused of sexual assault in the past four years; over the same time period, the investigation found 103 Uber drivers accused of assault.
While Lyft offers a panic button so users can dial 911 from the app, any direct effort to protect users would come from the company, who need to overhaul their driver screening process and scrutinize how they handle claims from users. It’s not on individual users to protect themselves with a panic button when the company is enlisting predatory drivers. “I know I’m not alone,” Turkos wrote in an announcement about her lawsuit posted on Medium. “It should never be on the back of victims to fight to be believed and supported by a company that purports to put the safety of its customers first. Our job is not to fix Lyft; our job is to heal.”