Uberannounced that the company will no longer require that sexual assault victims to go to mandatory arbitration.
Arbitration clauses have played a role in high-profile settlements involving film mogul Harvey Weinstein and others, enabling accusations and settlements to be made in secret.
The ride-hail giant, whose new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has sought to rehabilitate its image, has come under attack over its enforcement of the arbitration clause and its confidentiality provision, buried in the terms of service on the Uber app.
Uber's sexist policies within their company, as well as their bad habit of hiring drivers that have a tendency to sexually assault their customers have always been public knowledge.
"So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer: in mediation.in arbitration. or in open court".
If an Uber passenger complained about being sexually assaulted or harassed by a driver, the company previously had a policy that required a mandatory arbitration meeting before making a decision.
"Divulging the details of what happened in a sexual assault or harassment should be up to the survivor, not us", West said. Jeanne Christensen, a Wigdor partner, congratulated Uber for shedding the arbitration policy, a move she said "will begin a process to reduce future suffering by women passengers". And in the midst of the #MeToo movement, advocates have singled out these stipulations as tools used to stifle women's stories of sexual harassment and assault. "This policy extends to passengers, drivers and Lyft employees", said Lyft spokesperson Alexandra LaManna in a statement on Tuesday.
"I do expect these numbers to be numbers that people will be rightly upset by and will rightly be able to take concrete action against", said Uber's West, a former top Justice Department official.
In a statement to ABC News, West admitted that while the updated effort "won't apply to class-action suits", it "impacts the vast majority of assault claims we see on our platform".
"There is not much precedent for this", said Kristen Houser, chief public affairs officer at Raliance, a sexual assault prevention group that's working with Uber.
Following the reporter's examination and the letter, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from CT, challenged Uber's use of forced arbitration and in a letter to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi "respectfully asked for" the business end the practice.
The upheaval in Uber's leadership was prompted in large part by one woman, Susan Fowler, who publicly shared her story about experiencing egregious sexual harassment at Uber and reporting it, repeatedly, to managers and human resources reps who dismissed her concerns and threatened retaliation.
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