Uber ends arbitration requirement for sex misconduct claims

Uber ends arbitration requirement for sex misconduct claims

The practice? common to many industries — has been denounced for allowing companies to keep sexual misconduct claims out of the court system and away from public view.

And the company gained a reputation for sexism a year ago after a viral blog post from a former engineer, according to The Washington Post. A frat boy corporate culture ultimately came to haunt co-founder and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who was forced out past year.

Uber will no longer make its drivers, customers and employees go through forced arbitration when they lodge sexual assault or harassment claims against the ride-hailing service, the company announced Tuesday. In early June 2017, it fired 20 employees after a separate probe by law firm Perkins Coie.

The new rules mark another conciliatory move made by Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi (kahs-row-SHAH'-hee).

Arbitration clauses and nondisclosure agreements have always been business-as-usual in corporate America, but sentiment has begun to shift. The ensuing #MeToo movement has fueled efforts among lawmakers to to revise the conventional wisdom on how to handle sexual harassment complaints. "So we're making it clear that Uber will not require confidentiality provisions or non-disclosure agreements to prevent survivors from talking about the facts of what happened to them".

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Anyone using the Uber smartphone app to hail a ride was required to enter into confidential arbitration, even in the event of serious crimes, such as rape, committed by a driver.

Survivors will now have the choice to pursue claims in mediation, where they can choose confidentiality; in arbitration, where they can choose to maintain their privacy while pursuing their case, or in open court - leaving those affected "free to tell their story" however they see fit, Uber said.

Key quote from Uber CLO Tony West: "But we have learned it's important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims". In March 2018, Uber came under fire after court records showed it had tried to push the women in that case toward individual arbitration.

Arbitration has the look of a court hearing but are held in private and don't have the option of class-action claims. "Arbitration is the appropriate venue for this case", an Uber spokesperson said at the time. "They understand how their reputation will suffer if consumers perceive them as using arbitration to hide bad behavior". That means victims who wish to file lawsuits about harassment will still have to do so individually, and will still not be able to bring a case on behalf of many plaintiffs.

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