Ride-hailing company Lyft is facing 14 separate allegations of rape and assault from women who claim they were victimized by drivers on rides they book between 2018 and 2019. As a result, a lawsuit has been launched against Lyft for botching what has been deemed a “sexual predator crisis” within its ranks.
According to the suit, Lyft is accused of failing to protect its passengers despite the many claims of wrongdoing by its employees.
The company has not only ignored many reports of abuse from riders but also neglected to use the available technology to ensure riders’ safety. Of the 14 women involved in the lawsuit, five are accusing Lyft drivers of rape. One of those five women is blind.
While one of the women who made a complaint against her driver was told by Lyft that the contractor had been removed from the app, the rest of the women received no such assurances and were therefore worried that the men they claim assaulted them could be doing the same to other female passengers.
Lyft is facing mounting rape and sexual assault allegations in what a new lawsuit calls a ‘sexual predator crisis’ https://t.co/qMF8JoF96I
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) September 4, 2019
Talking to USA Today, 40-year-old Gladys Arce said she was kidnapped for four hours by her driver who raped her and threatened to kill her in between making declarations of love. The investigator in charge of her case later informed her that the driver in question was still working for Lyft.
“We were doing the right thing. We were getting a Lyft driver to get home safely. A drive that should have been 10, 15 minutes turned into a nightmare,” Arce said.
The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco’s superior court. In response, Lyft insisted that it takes the safety of its passengers seriously and that it plans to launch an in-app emergency button over the coming weeks that will automatically call 911 for riders who feel they’re in danger. This comes more than a year after Uber unveiled its own emergency button in May 2018.
In addition, while rival company Uber has removed more than 30,000 drivers in the U.S. alone since it implemented regular background checks in July 2018, Lyft only introduced the checks in April 2019 and wouldn’t say how many drivers had been barred from working for the company.
After many of the details of the alleged attacks were revealed in the lawsuit filing, Lyft had no choice but to finally respond officially.
As a result, Mary Winfield, head of Trust and Safety at the company, released a statement which read:
“As a platform committed to providing safe transportation, we hold ourselves to a higher standard by designing products and policies to keep out bad actors, make riders and drivers feel safe, and react quickly if and when an incident does occur.”
However, Lyft has been accused of failing to cooperate with police on alleged assault cases. The company’s response to allegations is said to be “appallingly inadequate” and their police cooperation being “sketchy at best,” according to attorney Steven Estey.
“We’ve seen this in other large organizations that want to divert complaints and keep them internalized not have a third party like cops involved,” Estey explained. “We’ve seen instances where they’ve not complied with subpoenas.”
What will happen in this case is anyone’s guess, but we can only hope the victims will receive justice and legislation will be put in place to protect riders everywhere.