Sexual harassment is not just a workplace issue. It happens in many different locations, including on-demand car service rides. Consider the story of a woman alleging that a driver for Uber, the juggernaut ride-sharing company, sexually harassed her. The victim contacted the company numerous times via email following the harassment, detailing how the driver’s actions involved inappropriate language and offering sexual favors. The company allegedly indicated they were investigating the incident and would take action to ensure something similar did not happen in the future.
Stories and lawsuits such as this are only the tip of the iceberg and reveal a bigger behind-the-scenes issue – the slow demise of the once popular U.S. ride-sharing app. Uber is banned in Thailand and Spain and is facing serious issues in the Netherlands and Germany. Meanwhile, Toronto, Canada is trying to jettison the service completely.
The woman in this case, not satisfied by the brush-off reply, sent another, longer email outlining precisely what happened during her ride. At one point the driver allegedly suggested he could pull over into a side street and do intimate things to her because he was very good at it.
While the company may think sexual harassment is rare when it comes to their drivers, two California district attorneys think otherwise and have launched a civil lawsuit against San Francisco-based company. The suit states that the company misleads customers about how thorough the background check is for drivers, while illegally offering unauthorized services at airports and defrauding customers by charging unnecessary fees.
When Uber learned the full scope of this particular driver’s behavior, they offered the complainant a $31 credit on her account, but not as compensation for any alleged wrongdoing. They also claim to have put him on immediate suspension. As it turns out, the company has no official policy regarding sexual harassment on the job, because they have never formally had to deal with it, and hold that such situations are rare.
Unfortunately, such situations are not rare. Anyone who has been a victim of sexual harassment, no matter the location, ought to seek advice from experienced legal counsel. Everyone has rights, and should know what they are.