Fourteen women who experienced sexual harassment, sexual assault and/or rape at the hands of their Uber drivers have sent an Open Letter to Uber’s Board of Directors requesting that they be released from the mandatory arbitration provision buried in the Uber app’s consumer agreement.
In November of 2017, Wigdor LLP filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of two women who were raped by their Uber drivers, alleging that Uber’s deficient background check procedures put thousands of female riders at risk of unwanted sexual violence. Seven additional women were added to the amended complaint filed in March, each alleging that they were sexually harassed, kidnapped, assaulted and/or raped by their Uber drivers.
The amended class action complaint further alleges that Uber has not only created a system for drivers to sexually assault and rape passengers, but also silences victims of sexual violence by forcing them into the “soundless halls” of private arbitration.
The Open Letter, sent on Thursday, April 26, 2018, shares the gruesome details of a handful of incidents of sexual violence perpetuated by Uber drivers against female riders. The fourteen women contend that forcing victims of sexual assault into confidential arbitration denies women their right to pursue sexual assault claims in open court, thereby allowing such senseless violence to continue unabated:
“Board Directors, we, as women, think that forcing female riders that have suffered rape, sexual assault and gender-motivated violence to pursue their claims in arbitration rather than in court serves to facilitate more incidents of such crimes and victimizes women a second time. Silencing our stories and the stories of countless other female victims emboldens predators by failing to hold them accountable. This vicious cycle perpetuates senseless violence. Uber’s condition of forced arbitration makes future suffering by women like us a near certainty unless Uber decides to ‘do the right thing’ and change.”
The letter also points out that the United States Congress and New York State Senate have passed legislation that would, if enacted, prohibit employers from requiring victims of sexual harassment or assault to settle their claims in private arbitration. Many companies, such as Microsoft and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, are voluntarily doing away with mandatory arbitration agreements, according to the letter.
Our clients, 14 women who were sexually harassed, assaulted and/or raped by their @Uber drivers, have sent an Open Letter to Uber's Board of Directors asking to be released from forced arbitration so that they may pursue class action claims in open court. https://t.co/bStnonJKpq
— WigdorLaw (@WigdorLaw) April 26, 2018
Statement from Jeanne M. Christensen, Partner at Wigdor LLP:
“As Uber devotes its resources towards an IPO, it must disclose to potential investors the magnitude of the problem it has regarding Uber drivers that sexually assault or rape their female riders. The critical first step in such transparency is to let our clients litigate their claims through the court system and not bully them into the secret halls of confidential arbitration. By this Open Letter, Uber has a small window to alter its course before its May 4 deadline to respond to the complaint in the proposed class action.”