Uber says reports of sexual assault have decreased among app users. But while they pat themselves on the back, the ride-sharing company faces suits from over 500 women around the country who say their lives were endangered when they used the service, and the company didn’t do enough to protect them. Court documents filed in San Francisco County Superior Court this week, say the victims were “kidnapped, sexually assaulted, sexually battered, raped, falsely imprisoned, stalked, harassed, and/or otherwise attacked” by one of the company’s drivers.
The San Francisco-based ride-sharing app released its 2019-2020 safety report in June, the second for the company. The results showed that the rate of reported sexual assault had decreased by 38 percent from 2017-2018. But users are saying that those numbers don’t tell the whole story.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Adam Slater, Founding Partner of Slater Slater Schulman LLP, wrote:
“Uber’s whole business model is based on giving people a safe ride home, but rider safety was never their concern – growth was, at the expense of their passengers’ safety. There is so much more that the company can be doing to protect riders: adding cameras to deter assaults, performing more robust background checks on drivers, creating a warning system when drivers don’t stay on a path to a destination.”
While his firm is currently representing 550 people with complaints against the company, Slater says they are actively investigating at least 150 more.
The court documents go on to allege that Uber has been aware of the safety issues since 2014 but has “failed to implement basic safety measures necessary to prevent these serious sexual assaults, which continue to occur to this day.” Uber implemented a Safe Rides Fee in 2014, an additional dollar per trip intended to cover driver background checks and safety training. However, the suit alleges that the company has not used the revenue collected appropriately.
Uber released the following statement in response to the filing:
“Sexual assault is a horrific crime, and we take every single report seriously. There is nothing more important than safety, which is why Uber has built new safety features, established survivor-centric policies, and been more transparent about serious incidents. While we can’t comment on pending litigation, we will continue to keep safety at the heart of our work.”