Recently, individuals and corporations alike have been unable to escape what some might consider to be a growing specter, a specific kind of lawsuit. A sort of lawsuit that really only attaches itself to those who fail to abide by good moral conduct, and those who care more for their bottom line than the safety, health and security of their customers and employees. What is this growing specter, fed ever onwards by a fundamental shift in our culture? People, men and women alike, are speaking up against sexual assault, physical and verbal, more than they ever have before. Ironically, despite empathy towards a victim being human nature, let alone common sense, it seems that many companies just don’t get the message.
As it stands, both Uber and Lyft have had serious sexual assault lawsuits levied against them. It isn’t that the leadership of either company have directly assaulted or caused direct harm to any one of their customers, but that their lack of care for those customers’ security, has. I’d like us to consider this as the title suggests, ‘Corporate Common Sense.’
Attorney Laurel Simes, a partner of a San Francisco firm which is representing a number of female plaintiffs in Lyft’s most recent suit states that “… this is out of control. [Sic] And this needs to stop.” (NPR) Simes claims that in mere days, they have received over 150 telephone calls from women who have been assaulted or verbally abused by rideshare drivers. The raw numbers are staggering, and the greater horror arises when facing the allegation that Lyft has known about these sort of attacks for years, and chosen to do nothing about it.
Michael Bomberger, whose firm has filed against Lyft in the name of fourteen women who fell victim to rape and assault while using the ridesharing service believes that, “… If the public knew the true number of sexual assaults by ride-share drivers, women might not ever ride with these companies again.” (NPR) Alison Turkos, a victim, shares her chilling story on The Verge after a Lyft driver kidnapped her at gunpoint and then forced himself onto her along with three other men- “What should have been a 15 minute drive, turned into an 80 minute living nightmare,” Turkos said. Worse still, Uber’s response utterly disregarded the physical and emotional abuse that Turkos suffered. In her statement, Turkos revealed that, “Lyft ‘apologized for the inconvenience that I’d been through’ and informed me they‘appreciated ‘the voice of their customers and were committed to doing their best in giving me the support that I needed.’ However, to my utter shock, Lyft informed me that I would still be expected to pay for the original estimated cost of my ride and I would be ‘unpaired’ from the driver in the future — I’d later learn he remained a Lyft driver.” (TheVerge) The New York Police Department confirmed the presence of foreign bodily fluids on Turkos’ clothing.
Uber faces similar lawsuits, albeit on a much smaller scale. The main question that rises to the forefront is why would such companies treat their corporate lifeblood, the riders, as if they were merely a source of profit and job security? This isn’t a question that I, despite my digging into the source of the lawsuits, can answer. Nonetheless, we here at RideSpider have an answer of our own.
Based on rider questionnaires and the overwhelming push to ensure that our riders will never be subject to such horrors, we have and are taking steps to prevent it. Female riders may, if they deem it necessary, request that they are only paired with female drivers- ensuring that anyone who feels their physical safety may be at risk has the opportunity to rectify that. Additionally, our already stringent policy of driver vetting ensures that only the best and safest drivers can serve with RideSpider, and that our signature rooftop QR-Code cab light matches our drivers specifically. Further steps, such as admitting our drivers’ to a fingerprinting and records database, and shifting our designation to a community-supportive B-Corporation will be coming in the future.
Our motto at RideSpider is “Happy Drivers, Happy Riders” for a reason. The safety and wellbeing of both our drivers and our riders is paramount. RideSpider will never sacrifice the safety and wellbeing of a valued individual for the sake of profit or face.