Do Lyft, Uber, DoorDash do enough to address sexual misconduct?

September 5, 2019

A Lyft lawsuit recently made headlines, such as NBC’s headline: “Lyft fails to protect passengers against sexual assault and harassment, lawsuit claims.” Fourteen plaintiffs sued Lyft saying that the rideshare company has received a mass of complaints about sexual misconduct by Lyft drivers, but has not take sufficient countermeasures to protect passengers, particularly young, lone female passengers, NBC reports. In contrast to Lyft, Uber rolled out changes to its app to make it easier for riders to report drivers to police, if they feel endangered, according to NBC.

The Guardian has written an article detailing how it’s not just customers who suffer from sexual harassment and sexual misconduct — Uber and DoorDash drivers have reported sexual misconduct committed against them by customers.

Uber and DoorDash Drivers’ Stories of Sexual Harassment

One DoorDash driver, Melissa (last name omitted), reported that a male customer had grabbed her breast, and another customer had sent her pornographic images while she was picking up the customer’s order, reports The Guardian. Melissa says she reported the latter customer to DoorDash, but “DoorDash did little to help,” reports The Guardian. “DoorDash is like, ‘You’re an independent contractor. You’re in business for yourself. You know the risks. You’re on your own,’ says Melissa.”

The Guardian laments that public outrage against sexual harassment has not focused on the drivers:

[A]lmost entirely overlooked amid the public outrage is the massive pool of low-wage workers – especially in the sharing economy – who are vulnerable to a wide range of abuses on the job because they lack basic labor rights.

The Guardian also interviewed several Uber drivers in 2017. One driver, Grace, said that she had been groped by passengers 4 times while working for Uber. Another Uber driver, Dolores, said that unlike in taxis, Uber drivers don’t have a partition in the car. “If the [passenger] wants to do something to you, they will do it,” Dolores told The Guardian. Dolores said that she felt reporting passengers to Uber was pointless because: “It’s your word against their word. They as passengers have the rights.”

Rash of Sexual Assault Lawsuits against Lyft

According to a lawyer representing victims, Lyft received nearly 100 sexual assault complaints by passengers from 2014 to 2016. An attorney told NBC News that she receives sexual misconduct complaints from gig economy customers at a rate of 5 to 10 per week.

Lyft said in a statement that it would release a transparency report about sexual assaults reported on its platform, similar to one Uber released last summer, reports NBC.

Earlier this year, one Lyft rider, Anna, reported that she was scared for her safety when her Lyft driver asked if her boyfriend was home and then refused to unlock the car door, according to NBC. An unnamed female rider said in a lawsuit against Lyft that in October 2018, her Lyft driver took away her phone, said “I love you,” and raped her, according to NBC.