Following the domino-like effect still playing out as a result of the #MeToo movement, Lyft has jumped onboard with an announcement that it is getting rid of confidentiality and mandatory arbitration requirements for passengers, drivers, and employees who raise sexual assault and sexual harassment claims. The move comes in the wake of the company’s ride-share competitor, Uber, making a similar announcement.
Uber takes the lead. In a May 15 blog posting, Uber’s Chief Legal Officer Tony West announced that the ride-share company will “no longer require mandatory arbitration for individual claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by Uber riders, drivers, or employees.” The company also said that it is giving sexual harassment complainants a choice as to whether settlement agreements will include confidentiality provisions.
In addition, West shared that Uber was working with experts in the field to develop a taxonomy to categorize the incidents that are reported to the company. “We hope to open-source this methodology so we can encourage others in the ridesharing, transportation and travel industries, both private and public, to join us in taking this step,” he said.
Lyft quickly follows. Lyft jumped on board the same day Uber made its announcement. “We agree with the changes [made by Uber] and have removed the confidentiality requirement for sexual assault victims, as well as ended mandatory arbitration for those individuals so that they can choose which venue is best for them,” Lyft said in a statement to Employment Law Daily.
“The #MeToo movement has brought to life important issues that must be addressed by society, and we’re committed to doing our part,” Lyft said, also pointing out that Uber made the “good decision” to adjust their company’s policies “48 hours prior to an impending lawsuit against their company.” Lyft also underscored its “longstanding track record of action” in support of the communities the ride-share company serves, from its commitment to the ACLU to standing up for pay equity and racial equality.
Earlier corporate activism. Microsoft was an early arrival on the mandatory arbitration repudiation for sexual harassment cases front. In a December 2017 blog posting, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith announced that Microsoft would be the “first Fortune 100 company to endorse bipartisan federal legislation that will ensure that people’s concerns about sexual harassment can always be heard,” backing the Forced Arbitration of Sexual Harassment Act of 2017 (S. 2203). Smith said that effective immediately, Microsoft was waiving the contractual requirement for arbitration of sexual harassment claims in its own arbitration agreements “for the limited number of employees who have this requirement.”
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