Uber Technologies Inc. reportedly finally reached a preliminary agreement with a California regulator for sharing data on sexual assault and harassment claims on its platform, avoiding a $59 million fine.

 

Back in Dec., the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) fined Uber after it refused to share victims’ detailed information, including full names and contact information, arguing that doing so would violate their right to privacy. Under the current proposal outlined in a regulatory filing with the CPUC, the penalty would be reduced to $150,000. However, Uber would pay $9 million to support a state victims’ fund and help create industry-wide safety and reporting standards.

 

The dispute resulted after Uber released its a safety report in Dec. 2019, which disclosed 6,000 reports of sexual assault related to 2.3 billion trips in the U.S. in 2017 and 2018. Of the 3,045 reported sexual assault cases in 2018 (up from 2,936 in 2017), Uber reportedly said 235 were rapes and the remainder were varying levels of assault. A vast majority involved unwanted kissing or groping.

 

Reportedly aimed at ensuring drivers and the public that Uber was serious about safety, the report raised serious concerns and put the company in the spotlight. Rival ride-hailing company Lyft promised a similar report, but said it would await the conclusion of the CPUC procedures before releasing its data.

 

Proposed by Uber, the agreement proposes a division of the CPUC and an anti-sexual abuse group oversee the company to provide anonymized data on past instances of assault to the agency. Going forward, Uber will also provide anonymized data, but offer individuals the ability to opt in to being contacted by the CPUC when they report a claim. All ride-hail companies operating in California, including Lyft, would have to comply with those future data requests.

 

However, the agreement is subject to approval by an administrative judge and the full commission.

 

Recently, a Bay Area law firm representing dozens of women suing Uber over alleged sexual attacks by its drivers in multiple U.S. states submitted a court petition to group more than 80 cases into a single legal action. The dozens of lawsuits claim the company knew as early as 2014 that its drivers were raping and sexually assaulting female passengers. “In the seven years since, sexual predators driving for Uber have continued to sexually assault, harass, kidnap, physically assault, and/or rape Uber’s passengers,” the suits filed in San Francisco Superior Court and other California state courts reportedly allege. “Uber has failed to implement basic safety measures necessary to prevent these serious sexual assaults, which continue to this day.”

 

Of the suits, 14 incidents allegedly took place just after late 2019 when Uber issued its safety report, in which the company concluded with an assertion that in response it had “launched more safety features than ever before.” The most recent alleged incident occurred Apr. 30 in San Diego. “We’re still getting cases where somebody will say, ‘This happened last night,’” the attorney reportedly said. In total, 200 or so additional women are expected to join the legal action — with more than 100 alleging they were attacked by Uber drivers after the report was issued.

 

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Neama Rahmani is the President and co-founder of West Coast Trial Lawyers.

Neama graduated from UCLA at the age of 19 and Harvard Law School at the age of 22, making him one of the youngest graduates in the 200-year history of the…

Neama Rahmani is the President and co-founder of West Coast Trial Lawyers.

Neama graduated from UCLA at the age of 19 and Harvard Law School at the age of 22, making him one of the youngest graduates in the 200-year history of the law school. Upon graduation, Neama was hired by O’Melveny & Myers, the largest law firm in Los Angeles, where he represented companies such as Disney, Marriott, and the Roman Catholic Church.

But Neama wanted to help ordinary people, not corporations, so he joined the United States Attorney’s Office, where he prosecuted drug and human trafficking cases along the United States-Mexico border. While working as a federal prosecutor, Neama captured and successfully prosecuted a fugitive murderer and drug kingpin who had terrorized Southern California and was featured on “America’s Most Wanted.” Neama was then appointed to be the Director of Enforcement of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, an independent watchdog that oversees and investigates the elected officials and highest level employees of the City of Los Angeles, including the Mayor and City Council. He held that position until becoming a trial lawyer for the people.

Neama has extensive trial experience. He has led teams of more than 170 attorneys in litigation against the largest companies in the world. Neama has successfully tried dozens of cases to verdict as lead trial counsel, and has argued before both state and federal appeals courts. Over the course of his career, Neama has handled thousands of cases as attorney of record and has helped his clients obtain more than $1 billion in settlements and judgments.