“Uber has placed profits over safety by deliberately lowering the bar for drivers.”
A woman in Minnesota has sued Uber, alleging that one of the company’s drivers attempted to rape her in August 2016.
As is the case in other sexual assault lawsuits involving the ride-sharing company, the woman argues that Uber has been negligent in its hiring practices. The company, she claims, is not as safe as it purports to be.
Uber has faced numerous similar legal battles in recent years. Last month, a New Jersey man sued the company over an alleged assault that he sustained after his driver apparently refused to take him from Philadelphia back to his hometown, nine miles away. Last year, two women in Boston settled their lawsuit with Uber on similar allegations of sexual assault.
The Minnesota woman, referred to as Jane Doe, hailed an Uber with two of her friends to go to a Minneapolis bar. The driver who arrived to pick them up was a man identified as Abdel Jaquez, who, according to the lawsuit, “had a prior criminal record of a sexual crime against another woman, which would have been revealed by a detailed fingerprint-based background check of the type conducted regularly within the taxi industry.”
Jaquez allegedly drove the women and her friends to one bar. He and Doe exchanged numbers “so that, when they were ready to leave the brewery, they could take an Uber ride to their next destination.” (This is not standard procedure for Uber rides.)
The lawsuit continues:
Ms. Doe and one friend rode with Jaquez to the second bar. It was their understanding that Uber was continuing to charge them for this second ride via the Uber App. It was also their understanding that Jaquez continued to act as an Uber employee, on the clock, and that his status during the second ride was no different than it had been during the first ride.
Once the two women were dropped off at the second bar, they exited the car. A few steps away from the car, Doe realized she had left her phone plugged into the auxiliary cable in the car and went back to retrieve it. The driver then “complimented and attempted to kiss her.” When she rebuffed him, Jaquez allegedly began driving, with Doe only partially in the car. He pulled over and began “forcibly kissing and groping her.” Eventually, the woman managed to flee. She rejoined her friends and told them what had happened.
The lawsuit is unusually blunt and makes a point of saying that this negligence is, in fact, part of Uber’s business model.
“Uber has placed profits over safety by deliberately lowering the bar for drivers in order to rapidly expand its network of drivers and thus its profits,” the civil complaint argues. “This is a calculated decision by senior executives to allow Uber to dominate the emerging rideshare market at the expense of public safety.”
Uber did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
UPDATE 11:30am ET: Brooke Anderson, an Uber spokeswoman, e-mailed: “We’ll decline comment on pending litigation.”