POLITICS

Lawsuit From 21 Lyft Riders Alleges Drivers Raped And Assaulted Them

The victims have had their lives "irrevocably altered by the assailants driving for LYFT,” a lawsuit against the ride-hailing app asserted.

Twenty women and one man came forward in a lawsuit against Lyft on Wednesday alleging they were raped or sexually assaulted by drivers while using the popular ride-hailing app and accusing the company of doing next to nothing to ensure riders’ safety.

The complaint from these individuals, six of whom provided their names for the lawsuit, was filed in the San Francisco Superior Court. It follows another lawsuit that 14 other women filed in September with similar allegations. Both groups are represented by the same law firm, Estey & Bomberger.

“Lyft could make a few simple changes to the LYFT Ridesharing App to vastly increase passenger safety, but unfortunately, LYFT has chosen to not do so,” the suit argued. “As a result, the plaintiffs in this complaint, and other female passengers, continue to be attacked by sexual predators and have their lives irrevocably altered by the assailants driving for LYFT.”

The lawsuit claims there’s a number of issues with how the company hires and manages its drivers: Lyft has no adequate system in place for investigating accused drivers, doesn’t do “any real screening” for drivers such as background checks or fingerprinting, does not utilize technology it has to track drivers via cameras and GPS, doesn’t provide any anti-harassment training and has tried to conceal information about the assaults from the public.

A spokesperson for Lyft countered those claims in a statement Wednesday.

This year, nearly one in five employees at Lyft have been dedicated to initiatives that strengthen the platform’s safety. In just the last few months, we’ve launched more than 15 new safety features ― including daily continuous criminal background monitoring of all of our drivers, in-app emergency assistance to make reporting easier for riders, and mandatory feedback for rides rated less than four stars to ensure we are constantly tracking any level of problematic behavior by drivers. We’ve also partnered with RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, to roll out required sexual violence prevention education.

Lyft only recently implemented some of those policies amid the first lawsuit in September. The initiatives included requirements for a company representative to check in with a customer if their ride appears to have an unexplained delay, the added option to call 911 or the company directly from the app during a ride and requirements for all Lyft drivers to complete additional safety training.

Lawmakers have also begun to take action in response to sexual assault accusations about drivers with Lyft and Uber, Lyft’s main competition for ride-hailing services.

In October, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Lyft CEO Logan Green slamming the companies for not doing enough to protect riders from predatory drivers and demanding information about the companies’ policies on sexual harassment and driver reviews.

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