Uber is changing how it handles assault claims. Robyn Beck AFP Getty Images
15 May, 2018, 22:00
There's now no way to "reliably or accurately" compare Uber's safety to other forms of transportation, Chief Legal Officer Tony West said in the blog post announcing the move, and sexual assault is a "vastly underreported crime".
Now, riders can take sexual harassment or assault claims to the venue of their choosing, according to CNN.
The shift announced Tuesday will allow riders and drivers to file allegations of rape and other sexual misconduct in courts and mediation instead of being locked into an arbitration hearing.
The new policy is one of a number of changes made by new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who also is tightening driver screenings and enhancing its app so customers can have more trusted contacts able to follow each trip and a new emergency button that automatically dials 911.
"Whether to find closure, seek treatment, or become advocates for change themselves, survivors will be in control of whether to share their stories", wrote Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer, in a blog post.
Forced arbitration shields legal conflicts from public scrutiny and often requires a confidentiality agreement, silencing victims. And the firm said it will begin publishing a "safety transparency report" on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur on its platform. But for critics of the company, it's long overdue.
As part of arbitration, victims were required to enter into confidentiality agreements that prevented them from speaking publicly about the facts surrounding any sexual assault or harassment.
Uber has been dealing with a series of recent scandals.