The ride-sharing company also told CNN that it planned to publish a "safety transparency report" that will tally the number of sexual assaults or other incidents related to its service.
"So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer: in a mediation where they can choose confidentiality; in arbitration, where they can choose to maintain their privacy while pursuing their case; or in open court", said Tony West, the company's chief legal officer.
"Divulging the details of what happened in a sexual assault or harassment should be up to the survivor, not us", West said.
Following CNN's investigation and the letter, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from CT, challenged Uber's use of forced arbitration and in a letter to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi "respectfully requested" the company end the practice. They typically go hand-in-hand with nondisclosure agreements (NDAs); together, the two legal provisions ensure that disputes are kept quiet and confidential. In complaints involving sexual misconduct, arbitration and nondisclosure agreements often have a chilling effect: Technically, you can still bring a complaint to court, but the agreements enable the company to argue that the case was subject to binding arbitration, and a judge would likely agree. Dara Khosrowshahi, appointed Uber CEO in late August 2017, has made cleaning up the company culture a priority since taking over the job.
Now, Uber says employees, riders, and drivers can take those claims to open court or choose to join a class-action lawsuit.
Uber has been dealing with a series of recent scandals.
There's now no way to "reliably or accurately" compare Uber's safety to other forms of transportation, Chief Legal Officer Tony West said in the blog post announcing the move, and sexual assault is a "vastly underreported crime". Even worse for consumers is that in the world of arbitration, there is no possibility of class-action claims.