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A new lawsuit says Uber isn’t doing enough to protect riders from sexual predators

The three plaintiffs said they were raped by men posing as Uber drivers.

A hand holding a mobile phone displaying the word “Uber.”
Growing frustration against Uber’s safety procedures may be harmful for the company.
Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A lawsuit filed by three women who say they were raped by men posing as Uber drivers alleges that Uber is neglecting the safety of young, intoxicated female passengers — the very base the company claims to support through safety marketing campaigns.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday by three women whose names have been withheld, says Uber had been warned by law enforcement officials about fake Uber drivers targeting inebriated women in a Los Angeles neighborhood.

Yet the company made no public announcement about such threats, nor did they implement any additional safety measurements for drunk passengers, who are the most vulnerable to such violence. The lawsuit criticized Uber for neglecting such issues “to rapidly expand its profits and not deter any potential users.”

The complaint, which deals only with cases in Los Angeles, was filed a week after University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, 21, was found dead after getting into a car she mistook for her Uber ride. A suspect has been arrested and police have found traces of Josephson’s blood in the suspect’s car. To many, Josephson’s case drew attention to the need for better safety procedures when using Uber, such as making certified vehicles more identifiable; the president of USC even urged students to ask their drivers “What’s my name?” before getting into a car.

The plaintiffs claim that Uber makes it too easy for sexual predators to pose as drivers. The Uber emblem, which is attached to the windshield to label the car, can be downloaded off the website to “print at home.” Anyone has access to the file, as no login is required.

The company could also do more to make Uber safer for drunk customers, who are more likely to be targeted by scammers, the complaint said. Although Uber began their 2017 “Check Your Ride” campaign to encourage passengers to cross-check their car with the information on their app, this proves ineffective when customers are inebriated, plaintiffs said.

This isn’t the first time the company has suffered from reports of sexual assault. A CNN report last year found that, in a span of four years, at least 103 Uber drivers had been accused of either sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers. Most recently, a woman, who resides in Washington, DC, sued Uber for $10 million for sexual assault.

In a statement to Vox, Uber said the company has been working with law enforcement for several years about how to avoid fake rideshare drivers, including promoting “Check Your Ride” to colleges and law enforcement all over the country. The company has also announced proactive education plans to remind passengers to follow the recommended safety measures, including a social media awareness campaign and sending push notifications during pickup to remind customers to cross-check their car’s information with the app.

The lawsuit, however, said that more could be done, such as an Amber Alert-style warning that would notify passengers if they are within a five-mile radius of locations where abductions by fake drivers have occurred.

Growing frustration against the company’s safety procedures may be harmful for the company, now more than ever, as they plan to go public later this month. The company has initially been estimated to have a value of up to $120 billion, making it one of the largest companies to go public this year. Although Uber has stated multiple times that it is committed to safety, questions over whether they’re doing enough will likely continue to linger.

Read the lawsuit here:

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