Twenty women filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Wednesday against ride-share app Lyft, alleging they were raped or sexually assaulted by the company’s drivers.
The lawsuit follows one that was filed in September, in which 14 women alleged they had either been raped or sexually assaulted by Lyft drivers between 2018 and 2019.
“What these women describe is something no one should ever have to endure,” a Lyft spokesperson told The Hill in a statement. “Everyone deserves the ability to move about the world safely, yet women still face disproportionate risks. We recognize these risks, which is why we are relentless in our work to build safety into every aspect of our work.”
“That means continually investing in new features and policies to protect our riders and drivers,” the spokesperson added.
Lyft said that since the September lawsuit it has partnered with a top anti-sexual assault advocacy group — the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network — as it seeks to improve safety for those using the ride-sharing app.
“In just the last few months, we’ve launched more than 15 new safety features — including daily continuous criminal background monitoring of all of our drivers, in-app emergency assistance to make reporting easier for riders, and mandatory feedback for rides rated less than four stars to ensure we are constantly tracking any level of problematic behavior by drivers,” the company said.
However, the new suit argues that Lyft’s revamped protocols are not enough.
“Lyft’s newly announced standardized protocol for determining whether to ban drivers from the platform may pose a continued threat to passengers,” plaintiffs said in the lawsuit. “This new standardized protocol for dealing with complaints of sexual assault could, and likely will result in dangerous sexual predators remaining on Lyft’s platform until a more serious incident, like a rape occurs.”
One of plaintiff alleged that after falling asleep in the back of her Lyft, she woke up to find the driver on her “with his tongue in her mouth.”
Another plaintiff claims she was pressured into drinking tequila that was given to her by her driver before she was sexually assaulted.
The suit also argues that Lyft failed in its due diligence to correctly report the alleged incidents to law enforcement.
“Lyft riders who report sexual harassment or sexual assault to Lyft’s Trust & Safety Team are often left feeling no better off than had they not reported at all,” the filing says.
The lawsuit said Lyft “more often than not, does not tell the victim what steps Lyft conducts in an investigation, does not tell the victim if there have been other allegations against the same driver, and does not tell the victim whether the driver has been removed from the platform.”
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