An unamed woman raped by her Uber driver in 2014 is suing the ride-hailing company, its CEO and two former top executives, claiming they violated her privacy by illegally obtaining and passing around her medical records.
CEO Travis Kalanick, along with top executives Eric Alexander and Emil Michael, showed the victim’s medical records around the office and used them to support a theory that she colluded with Uber rival Ola to fabricate her rape claim, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday morning in the Northern District of California.
“Plaintiff was violated physically when she was brutally raped in Delhi, India by her Uber driver in December 2014,” the woman’s lawyers’ wrote in the complaint. “Sadly, in the United States, Uber executives violated her a second time by unlawfully obtaining and sharing her medical records from that vicious sexual assault and have failed, as of the date of this filing, to apologize to her for this outrageous conduct.”
Uber declined to comment on the substance of the case.
“No one should have to go through a horrific experience like this,” an Uber spokeswoman wrote in a statement, “and we’re truly sorry that she’s had to relive it over the last few weeks.”
All three executives named in the lawsuit recently stepped down or been removed from the company. Kalanick on Tuesday said he would take an indefinite leave of absence following a series of scandals at the ride-hailing startup. Alexander, Uber’s former president of business in the Asia Pacific, was forced out last week after tech blog Recode questioned his handling of the medical records. And Michael, Uber’s former senior vice president of business, was let go Monday following an investigation into claims of sexual harassment, unprofessional conduct and the company’s broader culture led by former U.S. Attorney Eric Holder.
The lawyers representing the rape victim say the problems at Uber go deeper than the mishandling of medical records.
“By rewarding employees who perform, regardless of complaints of discrimination, unlawful behavior or unethical practices,” the lawyers wrote, “Uber has created an unrestrained, untenable work environment that permits and even encourages employees to engage in shocking and inappropriate behavior.”
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, who lives in Texas, claimed she was raped by her Uber driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, in Delhi in December of 2014. The driver was convicted in 2015 in India and sentenced to life in prison.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was examined by a doctor immediately after the rape, and a few days later, Alexander met with Delhi police and obtained her medical records. Alexander examined the records closely and showed them to Michael and Kalanick, the plaintiff’s lawyers claim, and, according to the lawsuit, the three executives discussed the records with numerous Uber staff members and “disseminated a defamatory theory that plaintiff had ‘made up’ her rape and was colluding with a rival taxi/ride-hailing company to jettison Uber’s business in India.”
Alexander carried around the records in a briefcase until about December 2015, when others at Uber demanded that he turn them over, the lawsuit claims. Uber is believed to continue to posses a copy of the records, the lawyers claim.
The plaintiff, who lives in Texas, was “devastated” to learn her medical records had been passed around at Uber, according to her lawyers. They say she, through her lawyers, asked for an apology from the company, but never received one.
The lawsuit accuses Uber and the executives of intruding into private affairs and publicly disclosing private facts, and accuses the executives of defamation.
Photo: This file photo taken on March 10, 2016 shows a man checking a vehicle at an Uber ‘Work On Demand’ recruitment event in Los Angeles. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)