Lyft’s ‘Woke’ Picture May Be Tarnished by Flurry of Sexual Assault Accusations

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Lyft Inc.’s picture because the “woke” ride-hailing firm faces a brand new problem from a rash of lawsuits filed by girls who declare they have been sexually assaulted by drivers summoned to take them dwelling after evenings of partying.

Since Aug. 1, seven feminine passengers have sued the corporate in San Francisco, its hometown, and legal professionals on the women-led agency representing these riders say there are extra complaints to return.

Lyft president and co-founder John Zimmer described the startup to Time journal in 2017 as “woke” in distinction to bigger competitor Uber Applied sciences Inc., which was within the midst of a intercourse harassment scandal. However on Monday, an legal professional main the Lyft circumstances mentioned that isn’t what she’s discovered whereas working with scores of feminine shoppers who blame the businesses for failing to guard them from predatory drivers.

Non-public negotiations to attempt to head off litigation have gone higher with Uber than with Lyft, lawyer Laurel Simes mentioned, including that she needs each corporations to do extra intensive background checks to weed out harmful drivers and to put in video screens in ride-share automobiles.

“Uber appears to be taking extra of an inexpensive strategy about making modifications,” Simes mentioned. “They’re saying, ‘Let’s speak, let’s work out what we are able to do.’ The place Lyft appears to be extra scorched earth.”

Lyft had no quick touch upon the brand new fits. Uber additionally had no quick remark.

Lyft is already going through public scrutiny after the Washington Post and NBC’s Today show lately reported on allegations of harassment from feminine prospects. The reviews raises questions on Lyft’s capacity to distinguish itself from Uber, which has lengthy struggled to fend off criticism that it doesn’t do sufficient to make sure rides are protected. Each corporations went public this 12 months.

In April 2018, a CNN investigation discovered that 103 Uber drivers and 18 Lyft drivers had been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing passengers within the earlier 4 years. The subsequent month, each corporations dedicated to releasing knowledge about security incidents on their platforms. Uber issued a “transparency report” in July 2018 displaying mixture knowledge about requests from regulation enforcement companies, although it didn’t embody a breakdown on harassment and assault allegations.

Lyft said in April that it was rising the frequency of its background checks to incorporate “each day monitoring of its lively drivers and quick notification of any disqualifying legal convictions.” It additionally introduced an enhancement to its identification verification course of to forestall fraud by drivers intent on hiding their legal data.

The brand new Lyft fits describe assaults in city markets together with Seattle, Washington and New Orleans.

A lady from Miami alleges that when the driving force arrived at her dwelling in Might 2018, he circled, ostensibly to assist her unbutton her seat belt, and forcibly kissed her. In an incident in a suburb of Washington in July 2017, the driving force allegedly grabbed the lady’s crotch when she bent over to select up her baggage.

4 of the ladies, every recognized solely as Jane Doe, say they have been raped by their drivers in their very own properties. In a single case, a girl claims she summoned a Lyft in San Diego after a night out for drinks in October 2016. When she didn’t reply to textual content messages from her mates, they went her home and located her unconscious with the Lyft driver having intercourse together with her, in response to the grievance.

The agency of Levin Simes & Abrams, which focuses on product-injury circumstances in opposition to large corporations, solicits victims of ride-share assaults on its web site. Simes mentioned the agency is investigating complaints, various from rape to stalking, involving about 100 girls.

The complaints filed this month allege that whereas Lyft has promoted itself as a protected manner for ladies to get dwelling after an evening out, the corporate is chargeable for a “sexual predator disaster.”

The underside line is that not all ride-share drivers could be trusted, Simes mentioned.

“A lady or woman went out together with her good friend after which as an alternative of taking a taking a taxi cab, they take an Uber or a Lyft, which may be very handy,” she mentioned. “The lady could even go to sleep at the back of the automotive. And after they get dwelling, the driving force says, ‘You appear to be unsteady in your ft. Let me stroll you to your door,’ after which issues unravel from there.”

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