Fourteen women have filed a lawsuit against Lyft for allegedly being raped and sexually assaulted by their rideshare drivers.
The victims are alleging that the ridesharing company doesn’t do enough to protect female passengers and have failed to cooperate with law enforcement. Estey & Bomberger, the law firm that is representing the victims, said that Lyft received about 100 complaints regarding sexual assault experiences with drivers from 2014 to 2016, according to NBC.
During a press conference on Wednesday, one victim said she reported an assault to Lyft on the day that it occured, but that Lyft never returned her calls and sent her only four emails over nine months, one of which was an automatic response.
“It’s becoming more and more apparent that Lyft cannot be trusted to police themselves,” the victim said.
The victims, who are not being identified by name, are asking that Lyft makes changes to its app to hold both the company and the driver more accountable. Some of these include performing ongoing background checks, mandatory fingerprinting, immediately suspending drivers who verbally, physically or sexually assault passengers, and installing recording devices in Lyft vehicles.
Mary Winfield, Lyft’s head of trust and safety, called what the victims described “terrifying.”
“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,” she said in a statement provided to Digital Trends. “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.”
Attorney for the victims Mike Bomberger said unlike Uber, Lyft has been lacking when it comes to responding to victims — and that the company is slow to reach out to law enforcement when they learn of a potential sexual assault case involving a driver.
“Lyft’s response to these women who have been assaulted have been a bit different than Uber, and that’s why they are in this lawsuit today rather than Uber,” he said.
Bomberger said that they think there should be more changes to both apps. Attorney Stephen Estey added that it’s possible that at some point they will file a lawsuit against Uber for sexual assault cases as well.
According to 2018 data from CNN, over four years, 18 Lyft drivers in the U.S. faced accusations of sexual assault, with four drivers having been convicted. Uber saw 103 of its U.S.-based drivers accused of sexual assault during the same time frame.
Lyft and Uber have both included a type of “panic button” feature within their apps so passengers can contact authorities faster.
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