Uber Faces Class-Action Lawsuit From Riders Alleging Assault

Ride-hailing companies continue to face scrutiny over background checks.

byStephen Edelstein|
Uber Faces Class-Action Lawsuit From Riders Alleging Assault

Uber continues to face scrutiny over its background check policies, this time in the form of a class-action lawsuit started by two unidentified women, who allege that they were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers.

The complaint filed by the two plaintiffs accuses Uber of engaging in "unlawful" and "fraudulent" conduct by misrepresenting the safety of its ride-hailing service. The lawsuit argues that Uber's lax background check policies allow dangerous individuals to get jobs driving for the company, and thus get access to potential victims. The suit also takes issue with Uber's marketing of ride-hailing as safe transportation for people who have been drinking.

"Uber received this complaint today and we are in the process of reviewing it," a company statement released Tuesday said. "These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously."

Recently, both Uber and rival Lyft have been scrutinized over how they conduct background checks. In April, more than 8,000 Uber and Lyft drivers failed to pass stricter new background checks in Massachusetts. The regulations were subsequently changed to allow drivers to appeal rulings if they were not convicted of a crime, according to The Boston Globe.

Background checks were a factor in Transport for London's decision not to renew Uber's license to operate in the British capital at the end of December. Officials cited concerns that background checks weren't thorough enough, as well as concerns over Uber's policy for reporting crimes committed by its drivers. Uber is appealing the decision.

The lawsuit against Uber comes shortly after the filing of a suit against Lyft by a Chicago woman who alleges that she was raped by a Lyft driver. Like the suit against Uber, this lawsuit argues that stricter background checks should have caught the alleged perpetrator. Last month, Lyft deactivated the account of another Chicago driver, who has found to have ties to terrorist groups.