According to a new report from The Guardian, Uber has been hit with a class-action lawsuit which argues that the ride-sharing company has attempted to silence passengers who have been assaulted by drivers by forcing them to settle cases through arbitration. As the publication notes, this process typically involves confidentiality agreements, which means that the victims are not allowed to speak out about what happened to them.
The nine women who have joined the case say that they want to “force Uber to acknowledge that this is happening and to do something about it,” according to attorney Jeanne M. Christensen. But Uber argues that by signing up for the service in the first place, all riders agree to private arbitration. Thus, Uber says they have no case.
By forcing everyone who uses its service to handles disputes privately, Uber can effectively silence victims and sweep any issues under the rug. Using arbitration, the public never has to hear about how some women have been sexually harassed or assaulted by Uber drivers, and Uber never has to confront the issue head on.
“The allegations brought forth in this case are important to us and we take them very seriously,” said Uber in an email response to The Guardian. “Arbitration is the appropriate venue for this case because it allows the plaintiffs to publicly speak out as much as they want and have control over their individual privacy at the same time.”
That’s all well and good, but The Guardian points out that Uber didn’t respond to questions about whether or not the company’s settlement agreements include confidentiality clauses that bar victims from speaking up.