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Uber in trouble again with class action lawsuits from USA riders

15 November 2017

Concerns about Uber's screening procedures for drivers have dogged the company for a number of years.

The document reads that many USA states have strict monitoring of taxi drivers, and some even require cameras in vehicles, but Uber does not have comparable regulations.

The legal complaint, filed by Wigdor LLP on behalf of two plaintiffs, alleges that "thousands of female passengers have endured unlawful conduct by their Uber drivers including rape, sexual assault, physical violence and gender-motivated harassment".

The lawsuit was filed in the District of Northern California Tuesday, by two unidentified women.

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The suit is the latest blow in a year of controversies for Uber, including allegations of rampant sexual harassment in its workplace. The lawsuit is asking the court to force Uber to change the way it screens drivers and be more transparent about what it knows in regard to alleged sexual assaults by its drivers.

The lawsuit describes all the access Uber provides for drivers to commit sexual assault.

"To skirt state and local regulatory scrutiny, Uber labels itself a "technology platform" company rather than a "transportation" company", the complaint reads.

"Uber received this complaint today and we are in the process of reviewing it", a company spokeswoman said. "These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously", Uber said in a statement. The other was raped by an Uber driver in her apartment in Miami.

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Uber has argued that the screening standards applied in Maryland - where thousands of drivers have been rejected upon review since December 2015 - are outdated, overly broad and fail to adhere to a legal standard established by the state Public Service Commission previous year.

The complaint describes several actions Uber could have taken to prevent assault, including barring registered sex offenders from driving on Uber permanently; requiring in-person screenings for drivers; installing video surveillance in Ubers; performing criminal background checks every six months; requiring drivers to tell Uber within 24 hours if they are indicted or charged with any felony involving violence or issued a restraining order related to domestic violence; and a host of other potential solutions.

Uber, however, insisted that only 170 of those had claims of sexual assault and that the rest may have been "reports from riders who were making claims about sexual assault on other transport services, discussions about sexual assaults in the news, and reports about passengers who got into cars that were not Uber vehicles and were then sexually assaulted".

Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia, was picked to succeed Kalanick in August.

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This isn't the first time Uber has received criticism that its background checks are too lax.

Uber in trouble again with class action lawsuits from USA riders