San Francisco-based ride-sharing company Lyft is facing a major lawsuit and face accusations of not doing enough in response to sexual assaults.
The complaint filed by 14 women claims that as early as 2015, Lyft became aware that drivers were sexually assaulting female passengers. Lyft also failed to report rapes and sexual crimes to police and adopted policies to "silence" victims reporting the crimes, the lawsuit alleges.
“The 14 victims we represent and California’s nearly 100 sexual assault complaints are just the tip of the iceberg,” attorney Stephen Estey said in a statement. “Sexual assault is one of the least reported crimes, consequently, we know that many more assaults occurred than were reported.”
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The complaint, filed Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court, includes plaintifts from California, Utah, Nevada and Illinois. It claims between 2014 and 2016, Lyft received nearly 100 sexual assault complaints against its drivers in California. Lyft is accused in the lawsuit of covering up the cases.
The lawsuit also alleges Lyft did not do enough to prevent the assaults and the company does not have adequate background checks.
Lyft said it is committed to providing safe transportation and on its website said "We screen every single driver" and "active drivers need to pass another background check every 12 months."
Two women who filed the lawsuit spoke publicly during a press conference Wednesday in San Francisco. Both alleged victims said the background checks are not enough and are demanding things like installing surveillance cameras in Lyft vehicles and putting a panic button in the app will improve safety.
Lyft provided the following statement:
“The safety of our riders and drivers is fundamental to Lyft. We do not tolerate harassment or violence on our platform, and such behavior can and does result in a permanent ban from our service. We have made it a priority to continually invest in features that put riders in control of their experience. This includes in-app photos of the driver and vehicle, with increased license plate visibility, real-time ride tracking, digital receipts, and a two-way rating system with mandatory secondary feedback. We also bolstered our monitoring of active drivers on the platform implementing continuous criminal monitoring and enhanced identity verification.”