Uber Sexual Assault
In December 2019, Uber released its first public company safety report.
According to the safety report, Uber received 5,981 complaints detailing incidents of sexual assault in the United States between 2017 and 2018. This figure includes the sexual assault of Uber passengers and drivers. This statistic includes people who were victims of sexually violent acts ranging from non-consensual touching to non-consensual sexual penetration.
Uber acknowledged the report only includes data submitted by users. Thus, it may not show the full extent of the problem. However, Uber officials said they hope publishing the report will encourage other victims to report abuse.
“Most companies don’t talk about issues like sexual violence because doing so risks inviting negative headlines and public criticism. But we feel it’s time for a new approach. As someone who has prosecuted sex crimes and worked on these issues for more than 25 years, I can tell you that a new approach is sorely needed.”
Despite releasing the report, the rideshare company was recently fined $59 million. Uber received the fine for its failure to provide details of the reported Uber assaults to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
Uber Sexual Assault Statistics
Uber’s US Safety Report includes statistics on Uber-related sexual assault, harassment and rape. The report summarizes statistics around perpetrators and reporting parties. However, Uber’s report only offered victim profile statistics for acts of non-consensual sexual penetration.
Across 2017 and 2018, passengers accounted for approximately 92% of survivors. Drivers were the victims in roughly 7% of reported acts of non-consensual sexual penetration.
Sexual Assaults By Uber Drivers
Of the sexual assault reports made to Uber, drivers were the accused party in 54% of the cases.
This statistic is very important. News coverage of rideshare assault often covers stories in which an Uber driver sexually assaulted a passenger. This statistic shows passengers commit a large number of Uber sexual assaults.
By understanding all possible risks of sexual assault while using a rideshare service, a user may be better prepared to escape a dangerous situation.
Sexual Assaults By Uber Passengers
Although Uber driver sexual assaults make up the majority of Uber’s assault statistics, riders were the accused party in approximately 45% of the reported cases. Because Uber provided little information regarding the victims of these reported cases, it is possible these accused riders sexually assaulted drivers and/or other passengers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women are more likely to experience sexual violence involving physical contact than men.
- 1 in 3 women will experience sexual violence involving physical contact in their lifetime.
- 1 in 4 men will experience sexual violence involving physical contact in their lifetime.
Given this statistic, female Uber drivers are likely more vulnerable to sexual assault or harassment.
Is Uber Dangerous?
All ridesharing services come with risks. Uber’s report has shown drivers and passengers need to take certain precautions when using the company’s services.
- Uber now requires all drivers to undergo mandatory background checks. Drivers are not only screened before they can drive for Uber, but once each year as well.
- Uber designed several new emergency safety features within the Uber app that drivers and riders can use. This includes an emergency button in the app that dials 911 when pressed.
- Uber has 24/7 support staffed by trained safety experts to help all users.
- Uber is working with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The collaboration aims to help Uber enact safety measures and business practices that protect all users.
Although these actions may prevent some future assaults, some critics believe Uber has more work to do before its users are safe. Uber riders and drivers still face the danger of being sexually assaulted.
Sexual Assault Lawsuits Against Uber
With the high number of reported assaults, Uber faces many lawsuits filed by victims of sexual assault.
Uber has been named in lawsuits due to allegations of sexual assault since 2017. However, little is known about these early lawsuits. Before 2018, the company used mandatory arbitration clauses to settle claims of abuse.
What Is Mandatory Arbitration?
A mandatory arbitration clause forces the involved parties to settle claims using a third-party mediator (arbitrator). This limits a victim’s right to sue a company for an injustice like sexual assault. Mandatory arbitration generally benefits companies over victims.
The company ended its mandatory arbitration policy for sexual harassment and assault cases in May 2018. Still, the company prefers to settle matters outside of court. But, victims now maintain the right to choose how they seek compensation. If a victim wants to seek legal recourse, he or she has every right to do so.
Additionally, Uber no longer requires a confidentiality agreement as part of a settlement. Victims are free to share the details of their experience. However, the company continues to keep the financial details of any sexual harassment or assault settlement confidential.
Why Sue Uber?
Many survivors of Uber rape or sexual assault have filed civil lawsuits or pressed criminal charges against their abusers. But, some of these survivors name their abuser and Uber as defendants in the civil claims. These lawsuits accuse Uber of lax hiring and review processes, deceptive marketing and negligence leading to user assaults.
By including Uber as a defendant, survivors have the opportunity to hold Uber accountable for its role in the assault. In some cases, holding a company legally and financially liable can impact a company’s policies and actions. In the case of Uber, this could lead to policy changes that protect users from future incidents of assault.
If the abuser (defendant) is found guilty in a criminal case, he or she may face probation or time in prison. The victim (plaintiff) would only receive money if the court requires the defendant to pay restitution to the plaintiff.
If the abuser (defendant) is found liable in a civil case, he or she must pay a monetary award to the victim (plaintiff). The amount of the award is determined by the jury. The award covers any damages caused by the abuse.
Uber Sexual Assault Cases
Oregon Woman Suing Uber For $1 Million
In January 2020, an Oregon woman sued Uber and one of its drivers over a sexual assault allegation. The woman was assaulted by the Uber driver in 2018. She is seeking more than $1 million in damages.
Prior to this lawsuit, in 2018, the accused driver faced charges related to the assault. However, the driver was acquitted of these criminal charges in 2019.
Massachusetts Woman Files Federal Uber Driver Sexual Assault Lawsuit
In July 2020, a woman in Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against Uber over a sexual assault incident from 2018. The driver accused of sexual assault was arrested but fled the country after posting bond. The lawsuit against Uber claims the rideshare company’s hiring process endangered passengers. The lawsuit was originally filed in district court and later moved to federal court.
New York Woman Sues Uber
In September 2020, a woman filed a civil lawsuit against Uber. The lawsuit claims the company failed to protect users from sexual assault, despite a pattern of reported incidents. The plaintiff claims Uber’s negligence resulted in the plaintiff’s sexual assault in 2018.
The lawsuit also accuses the company of deceptive marketing practices that perpetuated an image of safety, despite a lack of safety policies in place at the time of the plaintiff’s assault.
The lawsuit was filed with the New York Supreme Court.
Uber Sexual Assault Lawsuit FAQs
How Long Do I Have To File A Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against Uber?
The deadline to file a sexual assault claim will vary by state. To understand the applicable legal deadlines, a survivor must review their state’s statutes of limitations.
A statute of limitations (SOL) is a legal deadline. SOLs vary based on the jurisdiction, the crime and the intended legal action (criminal charges versus a civil claim).
Our experienced attorneys can help you understand the relevant statutes and file a lawsuit against Uber in a timely manner. Consult us today about your legal options.
How Many People Have Been Sexually Assaulted While Using Uber?
Nearly 6,000 sexual assault complaints were made to Uber between 2017 and 2018. Uber anticipates the number of sexual assault reports to rise in the following years as the rideshare company offers more reporting options to survivors.
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Meneo Group managing partner: Ron Meneo
Ron Meneo is the managing partner of The Meneo Law Group. With more than 40 years of experience, he represents clients across the country on a variety of complex legal matters, including personal injury due to institutional sexual abuse, unsafe pharmaceutical drugs and other practice areas. He is a recipient of Martindale-Hubbell’s prestigious AV® Preeminent Rating. He has also served as an editor and contributor for several legal journals.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, January 17). Preventing Sexual Violence.
Grant, M. (Updated 2019, July 9). Mandatory Binding Arbitration. Investopedia. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
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RAINN. (N.D.) Our Modules. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
Sonnemaker, T. (2020, September 28). Uber is being sued by a woman who alleges the company failed to prevent her sexual assault and misled people about its safety record. Business Insider.
Uber Technologies, Inc. (N.D.) Our approach to safety. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
Uber Technologies, Inc. (2019, December 5). 2017-2018 US Safety Report [PDF].
(2020, January 9). Washington County woman sues Uber for more than $1M, says driver sexually assaulted her. KATU News.
(2020, July 3). Weymouth Woman Suing Uber After Alleged Sexual Assault. CBS Boston.