More than three years after ridehail corporations Uber and Lyft first pledged to launch security stories disclosing incidents of sexual assault and abuse on their platforms, Lyft has yet to accomplish that. Meanwhile, tons of of passengers are actually lining up for potential lawsuits over alleged incidents of this nature, plaintiff legal professionals inform NCS Business.
In May 2018, after a NCS investigation into sexual assault and abuse incidents by ride-hail drivers, Uber and Lyft, every dedicated to releasing security transparency stories that may disclose inner knowledge on probably the most extreme security incidents on their platforms. By the tip of 2019, Uber put out its first report, which revealed it had obtained 5,981 stories of sexual assault involving passengers and drivers within the two years prior, together with 464 stories of rape.
Lyft, for its half, has not adopted via by itself prior timelines for placing out the report.
When NCS Business requested Lyft in September 2019 in regards to the standing of the report, Lyft stated it deliberate to launch its transparency report by the tip of the 12 months. In May 2020, Lyft informed NCS Business the corporate deliberate to launch the report that 12 months.
In March 2021, Lyft’s head of coverage growth, Jennifer Brandenburger, cited a roadblock: Lyft, she stated, is ready for Uber to resolve its ongoing difficulty with the California Public Utilities Commission prior to releasing its personal report. (The CPUC requested extra data on incidents that occurred within the state after which fined Uber for failing to adjust to its request; CPUC and Uber are in ongoing mediation to resolve the problem.)
In an announcement, Lyft spokesperson Ashley Adams informed NCS Business, “The CPUC’s recent actions put victims’ privacy at risk and must be resolved before we will release our safety report.”
When requested in regards to the modified timelines, Lyft informed NCS Business it had determined to embrace knowledge from 2019 in its report and was ready on authorities visitors fatality knowledge to be launched. By the time it was, the CPUC had taken difficulty with Uber’s report.
As Lyft waits, authorized cases towards the corporate proceed to grow stemming from its dealing with of alleged sexual assault and rape incidents. At least 72 passengers are suing the corporate over alleged incidents. Of these cases, a small quantity are anticipated to go to trial via a coordinated continuing. Some of the cases allege Lyft has been conscious that its drivers had been sexually assaulting and raping feminine passengers for years however has failed to take satisfactory steps to defend passengers and warn them of the problem.
The first trial is about to start in January 2022.
(Lyft referred NCS Business to its assertion from December 2019, after fits had been filed: “Everyone deserves the ability to move about the world safely, yet women still face disproportionate risks. We recognize these risks, which is why we are relentless in building safety into every aspect of our work. That means continually investing in new features and policies to protect our riders and drivers.”)
According to Levin Simes Abrams LLP, one in every of three companies bringing cases towards Lyft, the variety of passengers in search of authorized counsel over alleged sexual assault and abuse claims by Lyft drivers is way increased. The agency stated it has retained greater than 400 shoppers whose cases it’s investigating and prosecuting, with roughly 80 cases filed at present. Estey & Bomberger LLP, one other agency bringing separate cases towards Lyft and can also be a part of the coordinated continuing, stated it has “many” different alleged victims whose cases it has yet to file.
“These [cases] are going to keep coming unless [Lyft] changes its procedures or institutes more safety measures,” Angela Nehmens, affiliate legal professional at Levin Simes Abrams LLP, informed NCS Business final month. “Uber is at least making an attempt to be open with the public. … Lyft is not doing that at all.”
“They’re not cooperative,” stated Rachel Abrams, a companion at Levin Simes Abrams, who added that whereas Uber meets periodically with the agency to try to resolve cases, Lyft doesn’t.
Lyft declined to touch upon the cases.
For Lyft there may be a lot at stake in releasing the report, together with the potential to dent its model simply as the US financial system is starting to reopen.
Lyft can also be dealing with an ongoing class motion lawsuit from traders alleging securities fraud. The go well with, which was first filed in 2019 after the corporate went public, particularly alleges a disconnect between Lyft’s public picture and its dealing with of sexual assault incidents.
“Lyft built a reputation as a company that cares about women, safety, and social issues. Lyft’s focus on the strength of its reputation was a key selling point to IPO investors,” in accordance to the criticism. “Contrary to the public image … Lyft had a pervasive problem with sexual assaults committed by its drivers.”
The criticism additional notes that Lyft failed to disclose this in its IPO registration assertion, which made no mention of the issue.
Lyft declined to touch upon the investor lawsuit.
According to Susan Sorenson, a professor of social coverage on the University of Pennsylvania whose analysis areas embrace the problem of violence towards ladies, it’s “reasonable cause for concern” that Lyft has yet to disclose this knowledge, which might assist outline the character and scope of the problem on its platform for most of the people.
Sorenson stated corporations “can and do take action when they feel it’s in their best interest.”
Information round security incidents may help folks make knowledgeable selections about how and when to journey, however the transparency additionally runs the danger of damaging an organization’s fame, in accordance to Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, Distinguished Professor of city planning and design at UCLA.
“[The companies] should be very concerned if people start saying that there’s an increasing number of people that complain about harassment because this whole idea of safe travel through Lyft or Uber falls apart,” stated Loukaitou-Sideris. “I think that’s why they’re very much protecting their data on this point.”
Loukaitou-Sideris, who has studied sexual harassment in public transit, stated not producing a report might also discourage reporting of incidents to the corporate.
One purpose folks don’t report alleged incidents of sexual violence, in accordance to Loukaitou-Sideris, is as a result of they understand that nothing a lot will occur as a results of their reporting. “By not publishing this data, it is one more reason that justifies that approach,” she stated, citing a attainable unintended consequence of Lyft having yet to put out a report.
Uber, in the meantime, is slated to publish its second transparency report later this 12 months. While Uber “took a really important first step” in releasing its knowledge, in accordance to Sorenson, she stated there may be nonetheless way more to be executed.
Sorenson stated it might be useful to launch uncooked knowledge in an anonymized means in order that it may be studied. Additionally, she and attorneys at Levin Simes Abrams LLC stated ride-hail corporations might require drivers to file rides, for instance, so there’s extra accountability inside automobiles for each drivers and passengers. (Uber not too long ago began prompting drivers to register their dashcams with the corporate, citing that it may well assist drivers comply with native surveillance and recording legal guidelines. The firm stated it alerts riders that their journey can be recorded if a driver has registered the dashcam, which can deter security incidents from occurring.)