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Uber to Stop Forcing Sexual Assault Victims into Arbitration

Uber to Stop Forcing Sexual Assault Victims into Arbitration

Popular ride-hailing service Uber will give its USA passengers and drivers more leeway to pursue claims of sexual misconduct in its latest attempt to shed its reputation for brushing aside bad behavior.

Uber has agreed to change their terms of service which previously required Uber passengers that were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers to enter arbitration, CNN reports.

With hopes for an initial public offering sometime in 2019, Uber is eager to move past a series of scandals that rocked the company over the past year and is trying to distance itself from behavior that prompted a grass-roots campaign urging riders to #DeleteUber.

Uber also will no longer require confidentiality as part of settlement agreements in sexual harassment or assault claims.

Giving victims of sexual assault or perceived sexual harassment more options sends an important message that Uber is taking the issue more seriously, said Kristen Houser, a spokeswoman for Raliance, a coalition of groups working with Uber to prevent sexual abuse on its service.

Uber also said it plans to release a report as early as next year on the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault on the platform - a move that follows a class-action lawsuit in California that alleges the $72 billion company has failed to protect passengers from sexual predators.

It's a huge about-turn for the company, which until now has silenced victims by insisting on mandatory arbitration and confidentiality provisions.

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Khosrowshahi has launched a campaign to "do the right thing" to fix the damage left by Uber's previous regime and lure back alienated riders who defected to rivals such as Lyft.

Concerns about crimes committed by Uber drivers has added to an array of problems for the industry giant. The saga ultimately resulted in cofounder Travis Kalanick being booted from the CEO job.

His successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, has had plenty of challenges land on his lap since his arrival.

CNN did not include most of these complaints in its tally of cases because they could not all be verified with incident reports.

Uber's been under criticism for its lax background checks for drivers.

Lyft's ride-hailing service is following market leader Uber's example and dropping a requirement that kept a lid on allegations of sexual misconduct made by its passengers and drivers. Critics contend Uber used arbitration to keep a lid on news coverage, among other things. "We need to end the practice of forced arbitration", she wrote on April 12, "a legal loophole companies use to cover up their illegal treatment of employees".