Uber and Lyft continue to face major safety issues for women who choose to use their services. We see a multitude of sexual assault and harassment incidents, and have made it our goal to get these companies to reform they way they conduct business. One of the most disheartening aspects of helping survivors move forward with their lives is the lack of support from Uber and Lyft when reporting driver assaults. Their calloused responses are shameful in their lack of compassion.
We at Estey & Bomberger have seen the same response from Uber again and again. They state that Uber is committed to rider safety. Updates to their app include an emergency button with 911 integration technology, and a trip sharing feature, but the followup responses when riders report an incident can be harsh to say the least.
Here are just a few examples our clients have experienced:
Monica C., and Uber passenger received a $15.30 trip refund with a picture of her perpetrator on it, alongside his 4.85 rating for “excellent service.” Monica responded to this as follows:
Hi Alex from Uber,
In response to your message on 5/29/2019.
No I’m really not OK. Your driver drugged me and raped me. It is not comfortable for me to talk about this so I really don’t want to call you. Your driver has been arrested and I hope will go to jail for what he’s done. I’m worried he has done this to others. I can’t believe you sent me a “courtesy” refund with his picture on it! That was just an awful thing to do. Thanks for the $15.30 refund, but I would much rather you pay for the therapy I have had to be in since the rape.
I would like to know what report you received. If you really want to help you would cooperate with the police and help them identify additional victims. This is not the first time your driver has done this I’m sure. He is a complete predator.
Jessica L., an Uber passenger reached out to Uber to no avail.
I called for an Uber X (versus Uber pool) because I wanted to go with the safer option; I didn’t want to go walk to a random pick-up point like Uber pool makes you do. It was nighttime and I was exhausted so I fell asleep in the car. I woke up to my driver having sex with me. I went to reach for my phone to call 911 but he had stolen it. I called the police from my SmartWatch and notified Uber immediately as soon as I got to the hospital. Because I had no phone, I got onto a computer at the hospital so the police could apprehend the guy right away. I told Uber that I had been raped by my driver and he stole my phone. Uber tried to call me so my SmartWatch rang, but then it died. Then I got on the hospital phone to call Uber. They kept asking me questions about the drivers name and the ride, but I couldn’t access any of the ride information without my phone. I even logged into the desktop version of my Uber account and I still couldn’t access any information from my ride. Frustrated, I put Uber on the phone with the police officers. Uber didn’t cooperate with police at all, would not give information about driver or my ride. They also did not acknowledge that the driver had stolen my phone. I am so upset at how they handled this. It’s been 6-months and I have not heard anything from Uber since.
Janet T., and Uber passenger had a shocking experience only to have Uber ignore her.
The driver kept bragging about how he “gets with girls” from Uber by picking them up. This made me very uncomfortable so I just stayed silent. Then out of nowhere, he reached over and groped my breasts, even tried to put his hand inside my shirt and bra. I was so shocked and terrified! I pushed him off and called Uber as soon as I got out of the car. They refunded the ride and said they restricted driver’s access to the Uber app. This was almost 6-months ago and Uber hasn’t contacted me since.
Lyft isn’t any better when it comes to dealing with the aftermath of a rider assault. Like Uber, Lyft insists that rider safety is fundamental to their daily operations. Unfortunately, our client’s experiences seem to differ.
Sophia S., a Lyft passenger, is quoted as saying, “I feel disgusted and violated. I shouldn’t feel afraid to not drink and drive”.
Alexis W., another Lyft passenger outlines her nightmare situation when trying to communicate with Lyft.
Initially I got a voicemail and email from a customer service representative at Lyft. I called the Lyft representative back and they didn’t answer, so I emailed them and I let them know I reported the sexual assault to the police. They said, “Okay thanks” and I never heard back from them. Two weeks after I filed the police report, a detective contacted Lyft to see what was going on, and said that Lyft confirmed that he was still driving. Lyft told the detective that their drivers keep driving until convicted.
Even though Lyft initially say that they will immediately remove the driver from the platform. This clearly isn’t true.
Him being able to drive, still out on the road is terrifying. The fact that this can happen to someone else really upsets me. And then their response was just backhanded in a way, not giving me information after this happened to me, it just continues my fear in getting in rideshares and mistrust in these companies. It’s been almost a year after my assault, so I emailed Lyft recently to ask if he was still driving for them. They said they couldn’t confirm his driving status, even though my driver was convicted for the assault. That made me feel helpless, hopeless, like I don’t matter, and I can’t help make a change. I’m a registered nurse and it’s in my code of ethics to keep our community safe. Their response was so off-putting. I’m a white educated woman and this has been an extremely hard process to navigate, I can’t imagine being less privileged and trying.
We see this all too often. What Uber and Lyft say and how they act are worlds apart. It’s clear that these companies value their share prices more than rider safety. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual assault by an Uber or Lyft driver, contact us immediately to explore your legal options and get help today.