Uber is facing new allegations of inappropriate driver behavior, this time by a California high school student who says she was scared by her driver’s lewd comments.
The teenage girl, who sued Uber in San Francisco County Superior Court last week, says she summoned a ride through the Uber app around 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 17. The complaint doesn’t say where the girl was when she hailed the ride, but the driver took her onto Highway 101. He then pulled onto the shoulder of the freeway and said “why don’t you sit in the front?” according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiff says she felt like she had no choice but to move to the front seat. She told the driver she was 16, according to the lawsuit.
As they continued their trip, the driver asked the teen “when did you lose your virginity?” and other sexual questions, including, “is it wrong that I have a boner?” according to the lawsuit. When they arrived at the teen’s house, she claims he pointed to his crotch and told her “look how hard you’ve made me.” He then lingered outside her house for about 10 minutes before driving away, according to the suit.
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Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The suit doesn’t reveal the driver’s name.
The teen says she complained and Uber refunded her $13.07 for the trip, and a staff member told her “I’m sorry about what happened. It’s not okay. We’re going to look into him.”
But according to the suit, the only follow-up Uber appeared to take on the issue was to cancel the teen’s account, because Uber has a policy barring minors from having accounts. The plaintiff says she had an account in her name, which she had used to summon “countless” rides in the past.
After that, Uber refused to interact with the teen about the incident, according to the lawsuit. She says her mother attempted to report the incident to Uber, but was told Uber couldn’t discuss another person’s account with a third party.
The teen is suing Uber for assault, gender discrimination, negligent hiring and other infractions, claiming the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company should have done more to protect its passengers from predatory drivers.
“Uber does not share with riders that making a choice to hail a ride with Uber also puts the rider in peril from the Uber drivers themselves,” the teen’s lawyers wrote in the complaint. “By marketing itself heavily towards young women and people who have been drinking, while claiming that ride safety is its #1 priority, Uber puts these women at risk.”
The lawsuit also faults Uber for not enforcing its policy requiring riders be 18 years old to set up an account. Uber doesn’t ask riders for a birth date when they set up an account, and Uber drivers aren’t required to check whether their fare is 18, according to the lawsuit.
Uber has faced scrutiny in the past for its safety practices, including its refusal to require fingerprint background checks for drivers. Last year the company settled a lawsuit in which the district attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles had accused Uber of misleading the public about its safety standards. Another class-action lawsuit took issue with Uber collecting a “safe rides fee” from customers. And multiple women have accused their Uber drivers of sexual assault, including a woman who says her driver raped her in India.
Photo: The building that houses the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. (Eric Risberg/AP)
Tags: lawsuit, sexual assault, Uber