- Lyft is facing a new lawsuit from victims who say they were sexually assaulted or raped by drivers.
- The 14 victims accuse the ride-hailing company has failed to address a “sexual predator crisis” on its apps.
- The lawsuit, filed in California, accuses Lyft of not doing enough to protect both drivers and passengers.
- In a statement, Lyft said its commitment to safety is “stronger than ever.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Fourteen victims of sexual assault have filed a lawsuit against Lyft accusing the company of failing to respond adequately to what they call a “sexual predator crisis” among drivers on its platform.
“Complaints to Lyft by female customers who have been attacked by Lyft drivers, combined with subsequent criminal investigations by law enforcement, clearly establish that Lyft has been fully aware of these continuing attacks by sexual predators driving for Lyft,” court documents, filed in California’s Supreme Court in San Francisco, allege.
“Lyft’s response to this sexual predator crisis amongst Lyft drivers has been appallingly inadequate,” the complaint says.
In one instance, a blind woman says her driver followed her into the grocery store after giving her a ride, and offered to give her a free ride home off the app, in violation of Lyft’s policies. Later, he forced his way into her home and raped her, the lawsuit claims.
It took one week for Lyft to respond to the unidentified victim’s claim, the lawsuit says, and never followed up again after telling the victim to provide a subpoena or legal order from police as part of their investigation. No prosecution was ever made, the lawsuit claims.
“If Lyft had made a few basic changes to the app, the police would have the evidence that this incident was not consensual,” the complaint reads.
In an emailed statement, Lyft’s head of trust and safety, Mary Winfield, said the company was commited to providing a safe transportation platform:
What the victims describe is terrifying and has no place in the Lyft community. One in six women will face some form of sexual violence in their lives – behavior that’s unacceptable for our society and on our platform As a platform committed to providing safe transportation, we hold ourselves to a higher standard by designing products and policies to keep out bad actors, make riders and drivers feel safe, and react quickly if and when an incident does occur. Our commitment is stronger than ever, as we dedicate more resources in our continued effort to ensure our riders and drivers have the safest possible experience.
The lawsuit also accuses Lyft of failing to add “simple changes” to its app in order to increase safety.
To be sure, the company has added some tools in recent months, like the ability to share trip details with a friend. Riders and drivers can contact a critical response safety line at any time of the day or night.
A direct-to-911 button is in the works and should be released inside the app within a few weeks, a company spokesperson told USA Today. Uber has had an emergency button in its app since 2018.
“Lyft has had four years to address these issues and they chose not to,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Stephen Estey, said at a press conference Wednesday.
The safety issues aren’t limited to passengers, either.
The lawsuit also notes that many Lyft drivers have installed cameras in their cars to prevent – or help after the fact – any attacks from riders. One particular attack on a driver in New York earlier this year went viral after the driver shared it with local news outlets. Many other drivers speaking to Business Insider have outlined similarly harrowing incidents.
The victims are seeking monetary damages for their hardship as well as reimbursement for court and legal expenses
“I can’t imagine another individual having to experience the fear, turmoil and feelings of insignificance that haunt me every day,” one of the victims said at the press conference.
Read the full complaint below: