Three years ago, Uber and Lyft pledged to release safety reports detailing sexual assault and abuse incidents on their platforms. While Uber has released its report, Lyft has yet to do so. Now, hundreds of passengers are filing lawsuits over alleged incidents of abuse.
In May 2018, a CNN investigation prompted the rideshare giants to release safety transparency reports. Uber released its first report at the end of 2019, which revealed nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assault involving passengers and drivers in 2017 and 2018, including nearly 500 reports of rape. Lyft, however, has not followed through on its timeline to release a report.
CNN Business has followed up with Lyft multiple times over the past two years. In September 2019, Lyft said it planned to release its report by the end of the year. In May 2020, the rideshare company planned to release the report before the end of 2020. Most recently, in March 2021, Lyft’s head of policy development, Jennifer Brandenburger, stated that Lyft was waiting for Uber to resolve an ongoing issue with the California Public Utilities Commission before releasing its own report. According to a Lyft spokesperson, “The CPUC’s recent actions put victims’ privacy at risk and must be resolved before we will release our safety report.”
As Lyft waits, lawsuits for alleged sexual assault and rape incidents are on the rise. As of June 2021, at least 72 passengers are suing the company. Only a small number of those cases are expected to go to trial. According to some of the plaintiffs, Lyft was aware that its drivers were sexually assaulting and raping female passengers but failed to take action to protect passengers. The first trial is scheduled to begin in January 2022.
In a statement regarding the lawsuits, Lyft said, “Everyone deserves the ability to move about the world safely, yet women still face disproportionate risks. We recognize these risks, which is why we are relentless in building safety into every aspect of our work. That means continually investing in new features and policies to protect our riders and drivers.”
Three law firms are bringing cases against Lyft. According to one of the firms, Levin Simes Abrams LLP, the number of passengers seeking legal counsel is considerably higher than noted above. The firm claims to have retained more than 400 clients whose cases it is investigating and prosecuting, with approximately 80 cases filed currently: “These cases are going to keep coming unless Lyft changes its procedures or institutes more safety measures. Uber is at least making an attempt to be open with the public. Lyft is not doing that at all.”
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