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After CNN report, lawmakers want answers from Uber, Lyft on sexual assaults

Lawmakers are demanding answers from ridesharing companies about sexual violence on their platforms.Nine membe...

Posted: May 21, 2018 11:46 PM
Updated: May 21, 2018 11:46 PM

Lawmakers are demanding answers from ridesharing companies about sexual violence on their platforms.

Nine members of Congress sent a letter to the CEOs of Uber, Lyft, Juno, Curb, and Via on Monday requesting details about their protocols related to sexual assault and harassment reports, training drivers, and more.

The letter, first seen by CNN, came following a recent CNN investigation that found at least 103 Uber drivers in the United States have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the past four years.

"The questions we're asking are, in many senses, common sense questions that we'd hope the ridesharing companies would already be doing, like maintaining records of driver who've been accused of sexual violence," said Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley of New York, who drafted the letter along with Congresswoman Lois Frankel of Florida. "[CNN's] article really begged these questions in many respects."

Read the letter: Lawmakers demand answers over rideshare driver assaults

The letter asks if the companies maintain records on drivers who've been accused of sexual violence and do they make that information public. It also wants to know if the companies have protocols in place to alert other ridesharing companies if drivers on their platform are reported for harassment or discrimination. Drivers often work for multiple companies.

"I have a [17-year-old] daughter, and I want her to know that when she's going to and from a place, she should be safe and not assaulted or sexually attacked," Crowley said in a phone interview. "Regardless of what condition the individual was in during a ride, they have every right to expect that they're treated with respect, dignity and honor."

Many of the women who say they were raped or attacked by the 103 accused drivers uncovered as a part of CNN's investigation had been drinking, or were inebriated, at the time of the incidents.

CNN's analysis came from an in-depth review of police reports, federal court records and county court databases for 20 major US cities. At least 31 of the Uber drivers have been convicted for crimes ranging from forcible touching and false imprisonment to rape, and dozens of criminal and civil cases are pending, CNN found.

Lyft, Uber's biggest US competitor, had 18 cases of its drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse in the past four years, according to a similar CNN review using the same methodology found. Drivers were either arrested, are wanted by police, or have been named in civil suits related to the incidents. Four Lyft drivers have been convicted.

CNN found two instances in which drivers pleaded guilty to sexual assaults while working for both Uber and Lyft.

Related: CNN investigation finds 103 Uber drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse

Five Uber drivers across various states told CNN as part of the investigation that they were not provided any kind of sexual harassment or assault training. Drivers agree to the company's community guidelines when they sign up to work for the service. Uber said it updated its standards in December 2016 to specify no sexual contact is permitted when using its platform.

The letter puts new pressure on the companies to be transparent about their internal protocols and safety measures pertaining to sexual violence.

"We do expect [the companies] to respond in a very forthright way," said Crowley. "It may very well -- depending on the answers they give -- require additional investigating, additional reporting, and at some point, a possible hearing."

The inquiries from the lawmakers are similar to questions CNN pressed Uber and Lyft on as part of the investigation.

Neither company disclosed data on the number of reports received from riders, but both promised last week to publish data in the future.

"We want to bring these numbers out in the open. We want people to acknowledge the enormity of the issue, and we want us to begin to think of constructive ways to prevent and end sexual assault," said Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer, told CNN last week.

The companies also agreed to stop forcing survivors into arbitration and will no longer require confidentiality as a part of settlements. However, survivors won't be able to pursue class action lawsuits.

"Eliminating forced arbitration and making confidentiality an option for survivors are good steps forward. There's more work to be done to ensure safety and fairness," said Frankel in a statement to CNN.

Related: Uber will no longer force victims of sexual assault into arbitration

But Crowley also praised some of the recent updates Uber has made to commit to safety. In April, the company said it was tightening its background check processes and rerunning background checks annually.

Although the letter doesn't give a deadline for the CEOs to respond, Crowley said, "We expect a response within a reasonable amount of time."

After publication, a Lyft spokesperson sent over a statement. "This is an incredibly important issue, and we look forward to responding to the letter sent to us this morning," it said. "We take this issue very seriously and work closely with law enforcement when appropriate."

-- CNN's Nelli Black, Curt Devine, Drew Griffin, Majlie de Puy Kamp, Collette Richards and Whitney Clegg contributed reporting.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 13194
CountyCasesDeaths
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Lake51222940
Allen38926670
Hamilton34288404
St. Joseph33770539
Elkhart27117431
Vanderburgh22034393
Tippecanoe21671212
Johnson17451374
Porter17206297
Hendricks16735310
Clark12657190
Madison12302337
Vigo12155244
Monroe11385166
LaPorte10800204
Delaware10312184
Howard9617211
Kosciusko9068113
Hancock7939139
Bartholomew7854153
Warrick7675155
Floyd7542176
Wayne6880198
Grant6773170
Boone6524100
Morgan6370138
Dubois6071117
Marshall5753108
Dearborn568075
Cass5671102
Henry5563100
Noble537983
Jackson492369
Shelby477795
Lawrence4332118
Gibson427389
Harrison426570
Montgomery416486
Clinton416053
DeKalb406684
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Whitley375539
Miami371465
Knox365389
Steuben362657
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White307354
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Posey268333
Scott260553
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Washington230431
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Sullivan207342
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Brown99640
Crawford97014
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Martin82415
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Ohio55511
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1048109

Reported Deaths: 18917
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1217031352
Cuyahoga1063982060
Hamilton779451165
Montgomery49883989
Summit45144907
Lucas39826760
Butler37638568
Stark31348894
Lorain24090472
Warren23835291
Mahoning20822583
Lake19915362
Clermont19397228
Delaware17972130
Licking16089206
Fairfield15646196
Trumbull15521459
Medina14815259
Greene14613236
Clark13576288
Wood12709184
Portage12313194
Allen11303229
Richland11017198
Miami10511212
Muskingum8688127
Wayne8543209
Columbiana8527226
Pickaway8421120
Marion8360135
Tuscarawas8359239
Erie7540153
Ross6692145
Hancock6683123
Geauga6527146
Ashtabula6458164
Scioto6280100
Belmont5591158
Union556247
Lawrence5458102
Jefferson5283147
Huron5270113
Darke5264121
Sandusky5164119
Seneca5093118
Washington5074107
Athens499454
Auglaize474884
Mercer470384
Shelby455089
Knox4371108
Madison421058
Putnam420298
Ashland412086
Fulton407966
Defiance399996
Crawford3858100
Brown385555
Logan372276
Preble369598
Clinton359659
Ottawa355478
Highland346059
Williams323274
Champaign318556
Jackson306951
Guernsey305848
Perry289349
Fayette276948
Morrow274439
Hardin263563
Henry263166
Coshocton258257
Holmes252699
Van Wert238662
Gallia233246
Pike232431
Adams227552
Wyandot226353
Hocking208958
Carroll188947
Paulding168538
Meigs141438
Noble132737
Monroe128841
Morgan106423
Harrison105336
Vinton81414
Unassigned02
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