Alleging that Uber misrepresents the safety of its services and does little to provide oversight of its drivers' actions, a New York woman has filed suit against the ridesharing giant. Seeking compensation for losses suffered because of a sexual assault by an Uber driver, she reveals an extensive record of shortcomings over the past several years.
Uber is no stranger to the judicial system. Alongside court battles over its business dealings, the business also faces hundreds of lawsuits from other riders who claim that poor safety practices and lax enforcement allowed dangerous individuals to cause harm.
The legislation known as Sami's Law passed the US House of Representatives in July of 2020. Under the law, it would be illegal for unauthorized individuals to sell vehicle signage representative of a rideshare company, as all drivers would face a new requirement to use lighted signage. The bill includes additional safety measures for riders as well. Named after a young New Jersey woman who was murdered by a ridesharing driver impersonator, it would also make such impersonations illegal.
As with a wide range of House bills passed under the 116th Congress, the Senate has not moved the bill through committee. Although it is currently unlikely for Sami's Law to face a full vote on the Senate floor, if passed, it would bring sweeping change to the rideshare industry based on a similar law first adopted in New Jersey.
Although opponents contend that the new rules are simply government overreach in an area where businesses should be left to improve their policies, Uber and Lyft issued public statements at the time of its House passage in favor of Sami's Law. Advocates for the law argue that only regulatory pressure inspires actual change within businesses such as Uber.
The New York lawsuit chronicles some of the shortcomings that may create conditions ripe for abuse by untrustworthy drivers. Uber settled for multi-millions in 2016 over misleading statements about its ridesharing background checks. The company's own safety reports logged more than 6,000 abuse claims in just two years.
Uber's persistent battle with litigation and frequent attention from state and federal regulators should serve as a cautionary tale for any business that is highly reliant on independent contractors. With a diverse gig economy and many businesses opting to forgo the traditional employee-employer relationship, the risk of negligent hiring has increased considerably.
Hedging against those dangers requires proactive safety policies and the right tools, such as the US OneSEARCH multi-jurisdictional criminal history report from backgroundchecks.com. Additional resources, such as the use of ongoing criminal monitoring after hiring, may provide an added degree of certainty to businesses regarding the trustworthiness of each contractor.
While Uber faces allegations that it creates an unsafe environment, other businesses must do what they can to ensure a safe, secure experience for clients, employees, and the public.