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Lyft Sued by 20 More Women Who Allege Rape, Sexual Assault on the Ride-Hailing App

Twenty more women have come forward alleging they were raped or sexually assaulted while using Lyft, adding to a growing list of legal complaints against the ride-hailing company from passengers who say they were targeted by drivers on the app. The lawsuit, filed by attorneys in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday, follows a September complaint filed by 14 women who alleged they were sexually assaulted or raped after "known sexual predators" were transported to locations in and around the country. The company's safety oversight led to reports of sexual assault.

"Lyft's In response to this sexual predator crisis, Lyft drivers have been appallingly inadequate, "according to the suit, which alleges that Lyft has been aware of the issues for four years and has failed to take action.

Lyft spokeswoman Alexandra LaManna said in a statement that no one should tolerate what women in the lawsuit describe and that women still face disproportionate safety risks. "We recognize these risks, which is why we are relentless in building our safety into every aspect of our work," she said. "That means continually investing in new features and policies to protect our riders and drivers."

Lyft has announced a number of safety changes as the passengers come forward with their allegations. They include in-app 911 integration, or a "panic button" that essentially allows passengers to report an incident directly to authorities. Lyft has also instituted driver sexual harassment prevention courses, in addition to prominently displaying license plate numbers of drivers, as well as users' location and vehicle information to make that information easier to give to authorities.

The Washington Post recently reported that more than a dozen women felt Lyft's responses to sexual harassment and misconduct fell short and failed to address the problem in the eyes of the victims. The Post later reported on a new standardized decision-making structure Lyft was instituting how to respond to allegations of serious misconduct on the platform, undermining the reliance on human rights of hired trusts and security specialists. As part of the changes, Lyft would review some previous driver deactivations to determine if bringing booted drivers back on board, The Post reported.

LaManna said at the time that the new structure was aimed at removing bias from important safety decisions and that there were no deactivations of drivers on average.

The San Francisco Superior Court took aim at that new system.

"Defining Lyft's newly announced standardized protocol for ban drivers from the platform may pose a continuing threat to passengers. The standardized protocol will introduce a black and white decision structure to reduce the ability to implement a human decision call based on similar complaints. of the same driver, "the complaint says. "This new standardized protocol could deal with complaints of sexual assault, and would result in dangerous sexual predators remaining on Lyft's platform until a more serious incident, like a rape occurs."

In the latest suit filed by attorneys from the same San Diego-based firm, Estey & Bomberger, 20 women including six named plaintiffs say they were raped or sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers. The passenger included a woman who allegedly fell asleep in the back seat of a car only to wake up with her Lyft driver on top of her "with his tongue in her mouth." Another woman alleges she was pressured to drink tequila provided by the driver, who then sexually assaulted her.

The women alleged in the suit that they turned to increasingly frantic measures to buy time or make their harassers stop. One of the allegations she said she had scared the driver of HIV, another allegation she had to stop and show up to the police for time to make asthma medication. A third urinated in the back seat to make the driver stop sexually assaulting her, the suit alleges.

Further, the suit alleges, Lyft has stonewalled law enforcement efforts to investigate the incidents, concealed from the nature and full extent of the problem, and fostered a culture that has silenced victims of rape and sexual assault on the platform.

"Lyft riders who report sexual harassment or sexual assault to Lyft's Trust & Safety team are often left feeling no better off than they were reported at all," the lawsuit says. The company "more often than not, does not tell the victim what steps Lyft conducts in an investigation, does not tell the victim if there have been other allegations against the same driver, and does not tell if the victim has been removed from the driver. the platform. "

Attorneys argue that Lyft, not the victims, should be responsible for the medical costs and the toll the incidents have taken on them. They said Lyft doesn't give passengers sufficient warning about the risks of using the app, or subject drivers to any "real screening," and it has prioritized profits over the safety of the platform.

Lyft said drivers are screened for criminal and driving offenses before giving rides on the platform. The company also has continuous monitoring of criminal offenses so background checks are up to date and have instituted rolling driving record reviews.

© The Washington Post 2019

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