Uber drops arbitration for sexual assault victims

Uber drops arbitration for sexual assault victims

Uber says it has learned that it's important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims.

Uber will also publish a a safety transparency report that will include data on sexual assaults and other incidents that occur through its platform. Uber was also accused of stealing trade secrets and covering up a massive data breach. Uber said the changes won't unwind previous settlements, but will apply to all future complaints, effective immediately. That revelation kicked off 2017's annus horribilis, a year during which Uber saw itself bouncing from one crisis to the next.

But she said in a written statement Tuesday that Uber continues to fight against class-action status for the 14 women she represents, showing it is "not fully committed to meaningful change" because victims are more likely to pursue claims as part of a group.

It's only by accounting and acknowledging [reports] that we are empowered to take action in reducing the incidents of sexual assault. "Once people know we're counting and we're paying attention then what is a vastly unreported crime today will become more reported - and that's a good thing".

"Together, we can make meaningful progress towards ending sexual violence", West wrote.

Uber is shifting its stance after receiving an open letter from the NY law firm Wigdor LLP, which already has filed a lawsuit seeking to be certified as a class action representing women who allege they have been raped, sexually harassed or abused in other ways by Uber drivers. Uber is mandated to respond by Wednesday. The women will have to bring other claims in the suit, including unfair business practices, to an arbitrator.

The forced arbitration allowed Uber to keep such allegations under wraps.

Beyond Uber, there's been a push to cut back on the use of forced arbitration by employers.

And the company gained a reputation for sexism past year after a viral blog post from a former engineer, according to The Washington Post. She joined California lawmakers in April to introduce a state bill that would ban forced arbitration. 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.

- CNN's Nelli Black, Curt Devine, Drew Griffin, Majlie de Puy Kamp, Collette Richards and Whitney Clegg contributed reporting.