Lyft Hit With Lawsuits By 20 Women Alleging Sexual Harassment On the Part of Drivers
A lawsuit against ridesharing company, Lyft, was filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday. 20 women involved in the suit claim they were sexually harassed or raped by their drivers. As ridesharing behemoths such as Lyft and Uber continue to face widespread scrutiny, this particular lawsuit claims that the former company has not taken steps to enhance rider safety, leaving their customers, particularly women, vulnerable to instances of rape and sexual harassment.
According to court documents, the suit states that, “Lyft’s response to this sexual predator crisis among [the company’s] drivers has been appallingly inadequate.” The new lawsuit comes after a September suit was filed against Lyft by 14 other women who claimed the company mishandled sexual assault and rape reports. Those women, each listed anonymously in the suit, alleged via court documents that Lyft “chooses to stonewall” law enforcement conducting investigations into assaults, and that the company fails to inform victims about the status of the drivers they’ve accused of sexual assault or rape.
Mike Bomberger of San Diego-based personal injury firm, Etsey & Bomberger, is representing the 20 women plaintiffs in the current suit. Bomberger told the Mercury News that, “Lyft has a sexual assault epidemic going on in its vehicles, and they haven’t done anything to fix it,” adding, “Lyft’s executives are tone deaf to this problem and they need to really address it.”
Bomberger indicated that the women are seeking an unspecified amount in damages for medical costs and emotional distress. The suit also includes punitive damages. A press conference to announce the lawsuit was held earlier this week, at which time one of the victims, Caroline Miller, of Cartersville, Georgia, said “she awoke from a nap during a Lyft ride after a night of celebrating her birthday to find the driver with his hand down her pants.” Following the harrowing recounting of the incident, Bomberger posed a rhetorical question for those assembled, asking, “If that driver knew that there was a camera on him, do you think that these kinds of things would happen?”
Lyft issued a public statement in response to the latest lawsuit being filed, which read:
“What these women describe is something no one should ever have to endure…Everyone deserves the ability to move about the world safely, yet women still face disproportionate risks. We recognize these risks, which is why we are relentless in our work to build safety into every aspect of our work. That means continually investing in new features and policies to protect our riders and drivers.”
Additionally, a Lyft spokesperson stated the company has partnered with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to offer violence prevention education to drivers, and has implemented annual criminal background checks.
The company announced a set of safety features in September following the lawsuit by the aforementioned 14 women. Those safety features touted by the company include:
-The ability for passengers to contact 911 emergency services from the Lyft app
-A new feature known as “Smart Trip Check-In,” which allows riders to talk with customer support in the event of delays
Ridesharing companies continue to face mounting public scrutiny as more riders come forward with disturbing tales of sexual harassment and abuse. Despite the self-described best efforts on the part of these companies to protect riders, it’s safe to presume that the current lawsuits are only the beginning in a wave of potential litigation facing Lyft and Uber. Many consider the initial lawsuits a harbinger for what these companies stand to face in the near future.
PINews will continue monitoring the story as more information comes to light.