Apr 26, 2018

Sexual assault victims ask Uber board to drop arbitration clauses

Uber's app and logo. Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A group of women who have sued Uber, alleging that they were sexually assaulted by drivers, is asking Uber's board to release them from their arbitration agreements, according to a copy of a letter sent to Axios.

Why it matters: Companies rely on arbitration clauses buried in terms of service to keep legal disputes out of court. The practice has come under fire recently, as critics charge companies use it to hide illegal activities and silence victims.

The issue at the heart of the women's class-action lawsuit: They say Uber misled them to believe they would be safe using its service as passengers. Uber, the suit charges, doesn't do enough to screen its drivers and protect riders.

  • Uber's driver screening practices and policies have been criticized over the years for failing to catch past convictions that fall outside its scope or for not screening beyond criminal records.
  • Earlier this month, Uber announced it would start rerunning driver background checks annually. It will also add new emergency features to its app, such as the ability to call 911, and it will no longer store passengers' exact pickup and drop-off locations in drivers' apps.

As for arbitration clauses, Uber's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has said (in a Twitter exchange with ex-employee Susan Fowler) that he will seriously consider the issue. Of course, there's no guarantee the company will change course.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 1,484,811 — Total deaths: 88,538 — Total recoveries: 329,876Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 432,132 — Total deaths: 14,817 — Total recoveries: 23,906Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe. Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. Tech: A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by social distancing.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. nearly empties medical supplies stockpile to fight coronavirus

The Intensive Care Unit of MedStar St. Mary's Hospital on April 8 in Leonardtown, Maryland. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The federal government is in the process of deploying 90% of its stockpiled medical equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Health and Human Services spokesperson Katie McKeogh told Axios Wednesday night.

Why it matters: These shipments aren't enough to meet current demands from states, who are bracing for staggered surges in hospital resource demand through May.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Daily death toll exceeds 2,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people for the second day in a row, and it's infected more than 431,000 others, per Johns Hopkins data.

Where it stands: More than 14,700 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. — including over 4,500 in New York. The state's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in New York in 24 hours. The state has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health