California Public Utilities Commission fines Uber $59M for not providing sexual assault, harassment data
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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

California Public Utilities Commission fines Uber $59M for not providing sexual assault, harassment data

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

Uber’s operating permit is subject to suspension if it doesn’t provide this and other data within 30 days.

An administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission has imposed a $59,085,000 penalty on Uber Technology, Inc., for its failure to provide information about sexual assault and harassment claims arising from its California transportation network company (TNC) passenger services, as well as information on the authorship of its U.S. Safety Report.

The December 14 decision found the that Uber refused, without legitimate legal or factual grounds, to comply with the ALJ’s rulings dated December 19, 2019, and January 27, 2020, which required rideshare giant to provide the information. As a result of Uber’s defiance of the Commission’s regulatory authority, Uber has violated Rule 1.1 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure (Rules), as well as Public Utilities Code Sections 5378(a) and (b), and 5415, and was penalized accordingly.

Sexual assault and harassment claims. Uber’s U.S. Safety Report showed that the total number of sexual assault and sexual harassment claims for 2017 and 2018 was 5,981. Uber argued that the report is not the subject of any decisions in the Commission proceeding, and thus, is not relevant. The fact remains, however, that the report raises concerns about the safety of passengers who avail themselves of Uber’s TNC operations, according to the ALJ. The safety of all TNC operations is an issue inherent to the instant proceeding, making the report a relevant area of inquiry.

During the course of the proceedings, Uber had cited confidentiality concerns related to both the victims of the sexual assaults and harassments, as well as the employees who composed the report. In its order the ALJ addressed some of these issues by requiring that Uber work with the Commission’s staff in the Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, Transportation Enforcement Branch, and Transportation Licensing and Analysis Branch, to develop a code or numbering system as a substitute for the actual names and other personally identifiable information requested in certain inquiries that the rideshare company must answer.

Operating permit on the line. Uber’s permits to operate as a TNC and a Charter-party Carrier will be suspended if it refuses to perform all of the following by the deadline imposed:

  • Pay the penalty amount in full;
  • Comply with the ALJ’s rulings on December 19, 2019, and January 27, 2020, in the manner described within 30 days from the date this latest decision was issued; and
  • Work with Commission staff in the Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, Transportation Enforcement Branch to develop a code or numbering system to substantially comply with the ALJ ruling as a substitute for the actual names and other personally identifiable information requested in order to allow the Commission to conduct its regulatory functions.

The case is Rulemaking 12-12-001.

Companies: Uber Technologies, Inc.

News: AgencyNews Discrimination SexDiscrimination SexualHarassment Safety CaliforniaNews GCNNews

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