Uber Tackles Sexual Violence With Transparency, New Classification Guide

Tony West serves as Uber's Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary and is playing a pivotal role in the company's new mission to combat sexual violence.

The ride-sharing giant is getting transparent about assault.
Tanya A. Christian Nov, 14, 2018

When Uber first burst onto the scene nearly 10 years ago, it was seen as a convenient way for people to hail a cab or “hire a driver” at a reduced rate. But along with its booming popularity came an awareness of the safety concerns the transportation service presented to both its passengers and drivers.

Earlier this year a CNN investigation found that over the last four years, 103 Uber drivers had been accused of sexual assault or abuse. To address the issue and growing concerns from customers, Uber this week announced an initiative in partnership with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) aimed at properly identifying sexual misconduct and creating a level of transparency around sexual assault cases.

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“We believe transparency is key to helping address issues like sexual violence,” Uber said in a statement announcing the news.

From the partnership, a taxonomy of allegations has been formed with definitions ranging from “staring or leering” to “verbal threat of sexual assault” in the misconduct category, and “attempted touching: non sexual body part” to “non consensual sexual penetration” in the assault grouping.

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“Until now, there has been no consistent way of categorizing these types of behavior, ranging from the inappropriate to the potentially criminal, for businesses like ours that bring people together in the real world,” the statement asserted.

Tony West, who serves as general counsel for the ridesharing company also released a blog post along with Kristen Houser, spokesperson for the NSVRC, on the importance of counting the number of sexual abuse victims.

“… Uber committed to releasing a first-of-its-kind transparency report in 2019 that will include data on sexual assaults and other severe incidents that are reported to us,” the post read. “This wasn’t an easy decision to make. But we believe that new strategies are needed to advance real solutions to help reduce the sexual violence that is so prevalent in our society.”

In May, the billion-dollar company did away with forced arbitration for its employees, riders, and drivers who make claims of sexual assault or harassment against the company. A report on disclosed incidents of abuse, will be released next year.