clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Uber Sued by Two Women Who Say They Were Sexually Assaulted

"People are being put deliberately in danger."

Warren Little / Getty Images

Uber’s safety practices are under fire yet again, this time from two women who say they were sexually assaulted by their Uber drivers. The alleged victims, who aren’t identifying themselves, are suing the ride-hailing company for not doing enough to vet and train drivers.

“Sadly, Uber has proven time and time again that it is willing to sacrifice the safety and well-being of its customers — particularly its female customers — for the sake of padding its corporate bottom line,” the complaint reads.

The suit alleges that a 6’3”, 200-pound driver groped Jane Doe 1’s crotch at a red light in Boston and forcibly kissed her, before driving her to a remote street, locking her door and climbing on top of her. She managed to unlock the door and ran away.

Jane Doe 2 says her Uber driver took her phone, sequestered her in a parking lot in Charleston, S.C., and raped her. The police department noted in the incident report that she was covered in bruises afterwards. She became suicidal in the hospital and spent time in the psychiatric ward as a result.

The plaintiffs are asking for a trial by jury. “These are pretty terrible things our clients have had to live through, and the fundamental reason for jury trial is for your peers to see what’s going on and assess if we as a civil society want this to be happening,” Elizabeth Chen, one of the lawyers representing the alleged victims, told Re/code. “What happened to our clients shouldn’t have to happen to any woman.”

Chen’s firm, Wigdor Law, also represented an alleged rape victim in Delhi, India, in a case that garnered international attention. The lawsuit was eventually dropped, and it’s unclear whether there was a settlement.

The plaintiffs are pressuring Uber to strengthen its driver vetting and training process. They want Uber to install GPS tracking devices in all vehicles, open 24/7 customer support centers in every market, disable child-lock functions on Uber cars, provide customers the option of requesting female drivers and more.

An Uber spokesperson said, “Our thoughts remain with the victims of these two terrible incidents. We proactively worked with law enforcement in Massachusetts and South Carolina at the time to share information and aid their investigations. Both drivers have been permanently removed from the platform.”

The alleged incidents are the latest in a long, long line of reports of Uber assaults over the years. Uber is still battling a lawsuit from the San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys over how it markets its background check practices.

Making any significant changes in its practices would be expensive for Uber. To do better background checks, such as fingerprint scans that access official justice databases, it would have to slow down its hiring process. Each driver would have to be fingerprinted in person.

“Because Uber is cutting corners, because it isn’t spending that extra dollar amount for running more stringent background checks, people are being put deliberately in danger,” Chen said.

Uber argues that its rides are safer than taxis, because there’s an electronic record of who you drove with and where they took you. It’s also worth noting that there are plenty of assault incidents with taxis, and they garner far less attention than Uber’s.

Check out the full text of the lawsuit below:

Uber sexual assault lawsuit

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.