On Tuesday, Uber announced a change in their policy for addressing sexual assault or harassment by users. Previously, complaints would be dealt with in an arbitration hearing; now, victims can sue the company directly.
The Guardian reports the decision will allow both drivers and passengers the opportunity to file allegations of sexual misconduct or assault in court, and will also end the requirement that these cases be kept confidential if a settlement is reached. Uber’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, was hired last August following the departure of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick after allegations of sexual harassment exploded at the company. Khosrowshahi is definitely on clean up duty:
Khosrowshahi has launched a campaign to “do the right thing” to repair the damage left by Uber’s previous regime and lure back alienated riders who defected to rivals such as Lyft.
The changes governing sexual misconduct come a month after Uber announced it will do criminal background checks on its US drivers annually and add a 911 button for summoning help in emergencies. They are an effort to reassure its riders and address concerns that it had not done enough to keep criminals from using its service to prey on potential victims.
Uber also has plans to start releasing information about harassment complaints publicly by the end of the year. There is an expectation that there will be an uptick in complaints with the new policy, as users feel emboldened to actually report when something happens. Uber is working on their issues with Raliance, an organization working to end sexual violence. Sounds good, but Tony West, Uber’s new chief legal officer, did tell the Guardian that the new transparency may be a lot for the company to take.
“We think the numbers are going to be disturbing,” said West. Yeah, probably.