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Uber must pay $9 million after stonewalling inquiries over sexual assaults, harassment

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved a $9 million settlement agreement with San Francisco-based ride-hailing service Uber related to its reporting of sexual harassment and assault cases.

California Public Utilities Commission, CPUC, Uber, CPUC’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, fine, settlement

The settlement between the CPUC’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, Uber, and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network follows allegations by the CPUC that Uber failed to respond to its requests for information regarding sexual assaults and harassments involving passengers and drivers.

Uber will pay $9 million to support passenger safety initiatives, including $5 million to the California Victims Compensation Board to be used for the victims of violence and sexual violence, and $4 million to address physical and sexual violence in the industry.

Uber provided the following statement about the settlement:

We’re glad the full Commission has adopted this agreement, which was developed in collaboration with CPUC staff and experts from RAINN. Most importantly, we can move forward with a solution that preserves the privacy and agency of survivors.”

In a blog post published Thursday morning, the company provided an overview of some recent safety enhancements, including the launch of a U.S. pilot program for a ride audio recording option and updated RideCheck technology to detect when a trip takes an unexpected route or when a trip ends unexpectedly early.

If an issue is detected, the rider and driver can respond that all is well or use an emergency button or report a problem to Uber’s Safety Incident Reporting Line. The audio feature has been used in Latin America and is being piloted in three U.S. cities.

Under the settlement, Uber also agreed to pay a $150,000 fine to the state’s general fund and to provide information on future sexual assault and harassment incidents to the CPUC, among other agreed-upon policy changes.

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