Uber has agreed to pay a $9 million settlement to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Uber settled with the CPUC after refusing to provide sexual assault data to the agency.
This new settlement agreement is a reduction from the original fine of $59 million. In December 2020, the CPUC ordered Uber to pay the initial fine or risk losing its operating permit in California.
State regulators asked Uber to provide identifying information of assault witnesses. This data was not included in the 2017-2018 U.S. Safety Report. Uber refused, arguing the data would violate survivors’ privacy.
The appeals process lasted nearly a year. Courts approved the new settlement agreement on December 2, 2021.
California Public Utilities Commission Approves Uber Settlement
In January 2021, Uber appealed the $59 million fine. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) filed the appeal on Uber’s behalf.
The CPUC agreed to reduce the fine and introduced several new terms to the settlement:
- $150,000 of the settlement will be paid as a fine to the California State General Fund. This is the reduced fine from the initial $59 million fine.
- $4 million of the settlement will fund the development of new rideshare safety protocols and violence prevention training.
- $5 million of the settlement will go to the California Victims Compensation Board (CalVCB) to support victims of physical and sexual violence.
Uber also agreed to provide the CPUC with sexual assault reports moving forward. The reports will replace the identifying details of witnesses and victims with “unique identifiers.” This change will help survivors remain anonymous.
RAINN Supports New Settlement Agreement
Uber worked with RAINN and the CPUC to craft the final settlement agreement.
The CPUC called Uber’s initial refusal to provide sexual assault data an “effort to frustrate commission oversight.” However, RAINN has supported Uber’s decision to withhold assault data from the beginning. RAINN filed the appeal against the $59 million fine in response.
“RAINN filed an appeal urging the CPUC not to adopt the Presiding Officer’s Decision, which will have a devastating effect on survivors’ agency and right to privacy, and on companies’ willingness to undertake the important work to prevent sexual violence.”
Since 2019, Uber and RAINN have collaborated on rideshare sexual assault and misconduct training for drivers.
Uber Will Continue Collecting Assault Data
Uber will continue to collect assault data as it is reported. The company will also add an opt-in process to forgo anonymity. This will allow survivors to provide personal details to California officials, if they so choose.
Alongside the settlement announcement, Uber also announced new in-app safety features. The company expanded its RideCheck GPS tracking service and will add audio seat belt reminders in 2022.
By the end of December 2021, Uber will also launch an opt-in audio recording feature. This feature was first piloted in Latin America and is now available in 14 countries. Uber will initially limit the U.S. pilot program to three unannounced cities.
Hussain, S. (2021, December 2). Uber agrees to pay $9-million California settlement on sexual assault reporting failure. Los Angeles Times.
Kansal, S. (2021, December 2). Always Looking Out For Your Safety. Uber. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
Maas, C. (2021, December 3). California regulator approves $9M settlement for Uber sexual assault reporting. Jurist.
(2021, January 11). RAINN Files Appeal to Protect Survivors’ Rights in California Public Utilities Commission Action Against Uber [Press Release]. RAINN. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
(2021, December 3). Uber to pay $9m in sex-assault report settlement. BBC News.