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At least seven different women have filed lawsuits in recent weeks against Lyft, alleging that the ride share company not only mishandled reports that they were sexually assaulted and raped in Lyft vehicles, but still charged them for the rides.
Four of the lawsuits involve claims that the drivers themselves raped the women, and were filed after settlement talks reportedly broke down. There may be as many as 100 other sexual assault claims pending against both Lyft and Uber being investigated nationwide, according to recent reports.
One complaint (PDF) was filed by Mary Espinosa in California Superior Court in San Francisco on August 8, alleging that Lyft knows it has a problem with sexual predators as drivers, but has done little to address the issue.
Espinosa indicates that on May 8, 2018, she was sexually assaulted by a Lyft driver.
“The trauma of the sexual assault caused and continues to cause excruciating pain and suffering and has had a catastrophic impact on plaintiff’s life and well-being,” the lawsuit states. “Unfortunately, there have been many other sexual assault victims who like Plaintiff, have been attacked and traumatized after they simply contracted with Lyft for a safe ride home.”
The Lyft sexual assault lawsuits accuse the company of hiring drivers without significant screening, saying that they merely fill out a form online, with inadequate background checks and no fingerprinting. The lawsuits claim almost all online applicants are accepted.
The plaintiffs also note that Lyft does not have a zero-tolerance policy for sexual misconduct, and allows drivers who have been reported for misconduct to continue driving and transporting customers. The lawsuits claims that Lyft has no training to prevent sexual harassment, and that chatrooms exist where rideshare drivers brag about how the job gives them access to “hot” women.
The women also note that Lyft has no mechanism in place to monitor rides, notes that it could require a zero-tolerance policy toward improper conduct and could require a surveillance camera that has to remain operational during all rides.
On its website, Lyft maintains that every driver is screened through professional third-party background checks. It also urges riders to first call 911 in case of an assault, but then to contact its Critical Response Line through the app’s call tool.