Uber ends mandatory arbitration for sexual assault, harassment claims

Uber ends mandatory arbitration for sexual assault, harassment claims

Kenneth Drake
May 15, 2018

But for critics of the company, it's long overdue.

Now, in a surprising turn, her former employer is doing just that.

Uber (UBER) ends mandatory arbitration for anyone with a claim of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

Uber's ride-hailing service will give its U.S. passengers and drivers more leeway to pursue claims of sexual misconduct, its latest attempt to reverse its reputation for brushing aside bad behaviour. Uber said the changes won't unwind previous settlements, but will apply to all future complaints, effective immediately.

Now, riders can take sexual harassment or assault claims to the venue of their choosing, according to CNN.

"Divulging the details of what happened in a sexual assault or harassment should be up to the survivor, not us", West said. "Uber is not immune to this deeply rooted problem, and we believe that it is up to us to be a big part of the solution". They typically go hand-in-hand with nondisclosure agreements (NDAs); together, the two legal provisions ensure that disputes are kept quiet and confidential. A frat boy corporate culture ultimately came to haunt co-founder and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who was forced out a year ago. Fowler described a direct manager who propositioned her, an engineering team that bled female talent, and a human-resources department that systematically dismissed her concerns in order to protect "high performers". West joined Uber in October 2017 after previously serving as associate attorney general during the Obama administration. Kalanick resigned later that month.

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The new rules mark another conciliatory move made by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi (kahs-row-SHAH'-hee). Last year, sexual-harassment claims toppled dozens of powerful men, from Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and television host Charlie Rose to several prominent venture capitalists.

Some lawmakers had urged Uber to waive binding arbitration for sexual harassment complaints. If they wish they will now be able to have their cases heard in open court and they will no longer be forced to sign non-disclosure agreements.

"We have learned it's important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims", Uber said.

By the end of the year, Uber will also start to publicly report incidents of alleged sexual misconduct in hopes of establishing more transparency about the issue throughout the ride-hailing and traditional taxi industries.

Uber is not the first major tech company to announce this change: Microsoft announced a similar move in December 2017. However, there is a catch - the new policy only applies to individual claims, and not class action lawsuits. As with the arbitration change, this will apply to cases now pending and cases moving forward.