back to article Toxic Uber sued after driver allegedly tried to rape passenger in car

Uber, facing scrutiny for its "toxic" culture of sexual harassment and for alleged trade secret theft from Alphabet's Waymo, has been hit with yet another lawsuit alleging that one of its drivers attempted to rape a passenger. Attorneys representing an unnamed ("Jane Doe") plaintiff filed a complaint against the company in …

  1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    "Jaquez remains an authorized Uber driver to the present time."

    Why the actual hell is that guy not in jail? Sexual Assault is a serious crime, so what is wrong with Minnesota that a rapist can just go free like that? It wouldn't be hard to track them down, what with the Uber app tracking the location of their phone and the make / model / license plate number of the vehicle is known.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Alien

      Re: "Jaquez remains an authorized Uber driver to the present time."

      Someone would need to make a complaint to the police. Someone would need to find evidence that'll stand up in a criminal trial. And at the end of it, no pot of gold.

      Whereas a complaint to Uber could lead to an out-of-court settlement, only needs to be proved to a civil standard if it does come to court, and holds the prospect of compensation from deep pockets.

    2. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: "Jaquez remains an authorized Uber driver to the present time."

      The bigger question people should ask is why Uber continually fights requirements for it's drivers that many jurisdictions have for taxi drivers to be fingerprinted by the police and have a police run criminal background check that taps (in the US) into the nation-wide criminal data base, which makes it vastly harder than Uber's "background check" for someone with a criminal history to get through.

      http://www.bostonherald.com/business/business_markets/2016/02/uber_don_t_fingerprint_our_drivers

    3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: "Jaquez remains an authorized Uber driver to the present time."

      "Why the actual hell is that guy not in jail? Sexual Assault is a serious crime, so what is wrong with Minnesota that a rapist can just go free like that?"

      Because this is a civil case and not a criminal one. There is most likely a criminal complaint against the guy, however this is a civil case where the victim is suing Uber for damages.

      If Uber can't get the case dismissed, they will settle out of court. Even if they had a jury trial and were found negligent but only awarded $1.00, it would set a precedence.

  2. Oh Homer
    Holmes

    Not an Uber fan, but

    This seems unlikely to be a problem unique to Uber.

    "records of assaults in taxis are not generally available"

    'Nuff said.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not an Uber fan, but

      "This seems unlikely to be a problem unique to Uber."

      Yes, but they are the worst offender, and are leading by bad example. While at a very large employer last summer they basically said; do NOT use Uber, we will only reimburse rides from Lyft. Not a testimonial, but even last year it was clear enough that this larger company did not trust any of the employees in a Uber car of any type. This is a modern company (Uber) with a very bad stench to it. They need to clean out the fuckheads and get into doing their business and not having a fucking party every single day. I wouldn't work in their data center for $300/hr. No way.

      1. DanceMan

        Re: Not an Uber fan, but

        "This is a modern company (Uber) with a very bad stench to it."

        Uber and Ola (an Indian competitor) drivers are currently on strike in India over low "wages", allegedly half that of taxi drivers. Uber continues to lose money worldwide while undercutting the competition in order to drive them out of business and gain monopoly.

        Bad stench indeed.

        1. Valerion

          Re: Not an Uber fan, but

          Uber and Ola (an Indian competitor) drivers are currently on strike in India over low "wages", allegedly half that of taxi drivers.

          If the wages are half that of a taxi driver, why not just become a taxi driver?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not an Uber fan, but

        > "Yes, but they are the worst offender..."

        The records for violence in taxis are not available, so we really don't know who is the worst offender, do we? Unless we have our minds already made up.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Meerkatjie

          Re: Not an Uber fan, but

          http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/over-400-london-cab-drivers-charged-with-crimes-last-year-a3226396.html (2015)

        3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Re: Not an Uber fan, but

          No, we don't have our minds made up. We don't know who the worst offender is, but we know who is an offender.

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: Not an Uber fan, but

        Well, to be fair, I wouldn't work in ANYBODY'S data center for $300/hr. Life's entirely too short!

      4. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: Not an Uber fan, but

        " ... but they are the worst offender ... "

        Are they? I don't know one way or another, do you have a reference that is reliable? Like them or loath them, unsubstantiated adverse comments don't advance the discussion.

        (I know this is the Register and some leeway is expected but really only works in technical area where we are more or less expert.)

      5. Oh Homer
        Childcatcher

        Re: "I wouldn't work in their data center for $300/hr"

        Most people can't afford the luxury of being that snobby.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Not an Uber fan, but

      In Italy, an appeal court just confirmed jail for a taxi driver who committed rape. Anyway, these cases are not common. A taxi driver needs a not so small investment to obtain a license, and in turn that could make him more careful about not throwing everything away. When your pool of workers is among those who can't fond a decent job and need money, there could be a bigger chance of getting criminals, especially when you work hard to avoid any responsibility.

    3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re Oh Homer: Not an Uber fan, but

      Apparently you flunked logic.

      "records of assaults in taxis are not generally available" ≠ "records of assaults in taxis are not available anywhere"

      'Nuff said.

      1. Oh Homer
        Headmaster

        Re: "you flunked logic"

        "records of assaults in taxis are sometimes available" ≠ "no assaults ever occur in taxis" or even "assaults occur more frequently in Uber cars"

        FTFY.

        Like I said, not an Uber fan, but my beef with them is how they stiff their drivers. That doesn't somehow justify unsubstantiated allegations of assault based on personal bias.

    4. Deltics

      Re: Not an Uber fan, but

      Actually, I think it IS likely to be a problem if not unique to Uber then certainly worse.

      In many parts of the world, licensed taxis now routinely have cameras installed for the protection of the drivers. But of course this also protects the passengers and means that any allegations of assault (and any attempt at such an assault) would be more than just a he-said/she-said situation which might be argued to be a vexatious allegation made by a difficult/disgruntled customer.

      Then there's the threat that any such behaviour by a taxi driver will lead not just to possible criminal prosecution but that even the allegation of such a thing could lead to the loss of their livelihood, losing their license to carry and their ability to get it back.

      Uber drivers don't have to worry about niceties such as being licensed to carry passengers, at all.

    5. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Not an Uber fan, but

      I remember two murderers who were London lack cab drivers and raped and killed women who were their passengers.

      I have had some dodgy black cab drivers and some dodgy mini-cab drivers, back in the day. In any vehicle, you as getting into a stranger's car.

  3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Former UK taxi licensing bod speaking here.

    Records of assaults by licensed drivers are certainly kept here. If you want a national picture you probably have to contact all the liceinsing authorities, but the data is there.

    And an assault results in instant suspension of their license... *if* somebody gets off their arse and actually tells the licensing authority. In my patch the police were pro-active in speedily triggering suspension where they had been involved, but if a victim never reports the assault there's no way to suspend the driver.

    There is a bit of a loophole in that if your license is suspended you can appeal against the suspension while the investigation is ongoing. It's a bit of a difficult matter, as natural justice demands no punishment before conviction, but public protection demands removal of danger to the public. I know I would be really pissed off if I was falsely accused of something and had my livehood removed until the accusation was shown to be false.

    And with Uber you'd think proof either way would be much easier, as the drivers are tracked remotely. We had a couple of cases dismissed where dispatch records showed the accused could not have been anywhere near the complainant at the time, and we always recommended best practise of keeping logs of driver activity, even for sole traders.

  4. stu 4

    Utterly dumb simile

    First, I agree Uber are scum.

    However, that simile is utter bollocks - they have 2 mechanisms that service customers - cars with people, and robots... why on earth would they both need to be treated the same way ?? it makes no sense at all. should the robots get bathroom breaks ? should the robots get paid ? how will they spend there ill-gotten money ? oil like bender ?

    If here's something worse than uber, it's lawyers.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Utterly dumb simile

      I think the argument they're trying to make is that the "robot" is a drop-in replacement - i.e. there's no difference in role and responsibilities, and therefore the two must be equivalent, making drivers employees.

      But, as you say, the argument is patently bollocks. You can easily have two people doing the exact same role, one an employee, the other a contractor. So while a self-driving car is nominally an employee (though really its just an asset) the meatbags could still be contractors.

      On the other hand, I think the saner arguments that drivers are employees hold some weight.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Utterly dumb simile

        Maybe they've chosen the robot argument because the saner argument has not yet been proven in the US.

  5. The Nazz Silver badge

    Distasteful or what?

    is it just me or is it very distasteful (or worse) to use what appears to be a photo of a girl/very young woman in a story with the headline including rape?

    If an abstract picture must be use, please choose more carefully.

    1. Mephistro Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Distasteful or what?

      The trick here is that the picture is an Über ad, and the caption says "safest rides on the road", ffs!.

      Perhaps ElReg is not the part that did something distasteful, eh?

  6. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    If here's something worse than uber, it's lawyers.

    deserves its own title

    also reminds me of a 'bloom county' comic in which they described a world without lawyers. Signs at the park said "ok to walk on grass", things like that.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: If here's something worse than uber, it's lawyers.

      Until you are accused of a crime you didn't commit, or your neighbour has trespassed and sawn down all your trees or keeps parking all over your front garden, or when your employer tries to rip you off, or when you are unfairly dismissed, or... but lawyers (at least in the UK) are reactive: you need help, you walk through their door.

      I have called on lawyers to help me on everything from immigration woes to a thieving employer and they have always been brilliant. I call in a plumber when I have problems, I call in a lawyer when I need one.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Villains all!

    I fail to see how these scum-bags are actually operating and claiming they're not a taxi service but a car-sharing service. What they're doing IS a taxi service but not in name. I drive for a living in the UK and have to pass a local knowledge test, have a criminal records disclosure, renew the badge/personal licence every year (which is not cheap), not to mention the local council's compliance check on the vehicles, which, together with the private hire operating licence, again, is not cheap. A medical examination is also required by the local council every three years, which is more expense. How this UBER mob is allowed to trade without all the usual safeguards is beyond me. Sounds like someone could be in someone else's pocket.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Villains all!

        "San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon called Uber's background checks 'completely worthless.'"

        But that's the point, Uber are just another taxi radio control centre. The background checks should be being done by the taxi driver licensing authorities. Possession of a taxi driver license is prima facia evidence that you have passed appropriate background checks. If a dodgy person gets through the background checks it's the taxi driver licensing authorities at fault, not the fleet manager. The more that Uber talk about themselves doing background checks the more that Uber are shouting from the rooftops that they are flouting licensing laws and taking on drivers who aren't licensed - 'cos if they are licensed why are Uber doing background checks, the prossession of a license is itself proof that background checks have already been done and passed.

      2. patrickstar

        Re: Villains all!

        Let me quote from the very article you offered as evidence of Uber having a worse record than regulated taxis: "But there’s little to suggest that the newest form of ridesharing is significantly riskier than the old one."

        It's quite a well-balanced piece actually, far more than your inflammatory quote would suggest.

        Look - no one forces you, or anyone else, to ride with Uber or drive for them. Any argument that government needs to step in to stop people from doing either is inherently invalid because of this.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: Villains all!

          "Look - no one forces you, or anyone else, to ride with Uber or drive for them. Any argument that government needs to step in to stop people from doing either is inherently invalid because of this"

          In nearly every case where a consumer makes a purchase, the provider is chosen by the consumer. That doesn't mean that all consumer protection laws are bogus. I don't want to have to learn which are the safe makes of automobile by watching half my family die in the dangerous ones. Likewise, it is Economics 101 that the free market only works if consumers can start from an assumption that all of the products on offer do what they say on the tin. Life is too short for every individual to have to research every provider in every market before making any decision.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well Uber scares me. Taxis scare me too. This is why I have a car.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not clear whether taxis and limousines are any safer than Uber

    Errm, in the UK, Uber is safter than a taxi or private hire, simply because you know your driver, his car, and where he has been. You don't get any of that in a Taxi in the UK.

    1. Velv Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: It's not clear whether taxis and limousines are any safer than Uber

      Both City Cabs and Capital Cars in Edinburgh provide upfront information when you book online through their app, including requesting immediate pickup like Uber. A text message has the basic details and the car can be tracked in the app.

      And since both appear to use an off the shelf app I suspect many other operators offer the same services.

      Agreed if you hail a taxi at the roadside you don't get the details, but that's like comparing oranges and bananas as you can't hail an Uber.

    2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: It's not clear whether taxis and limousines are any safer than Uber

      Uber -- I don't know my driver. I don't know his car. I don't know if he has been vetted. I don't know anything about him except he won't know the fast back roads like a black cabbie will, and he won't be able to take my disabled partner (no ramps) and so forth.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's not clear whether taxis and limousines are any safer than Uber

        You do know however that the car won't smell of KFC from the previous occupant, and it won't be driven by an obnoxious ranting, sun reading slob.

        My experience of London cabs are awful, and my experience of London (and New York) Uber has always been superb.

        It seems those black cabbies caught napping are upset, and recently learned to how us one of those fangled computer things.

  10. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    Uber

    While there are quite a number of issues published around Uber, the taxi folks don't *seem* to have the same level of transparency in many places. However this is due to media exposure more than it is due to record keeping. Certainly when I drove taxi (some 20+ years ago I'll admit, but most of the structure here hasn't changed a lick), one went through a Criminal Records check, (police based), medical exam (annually), licence purchase (annual), and an on road check (with an examiner). All of which cost a few dollars. Both for the driver and in the case of the fleet owner the fleet plates also cost a few dollars (now lots of dollars I'm given to understand).

    While Uber's statement is that they are a data communications company providing a link between those willing to drive folks about and those needing to be driven about. They insist up hill and down dale that they are NOT a taxi company and thus do NOT need to follow taxi company rules. This makes them more efficient and more agile. And because they are NOT a taxi company they don't need to follow rules that apply to taxi companies. Thus they don't need police records checks, they don't need annual medical exams, annual licences or annual on road checks, or annual plate renewal fees. This makes them cheaper, more effective and more efficient.

    It also takes money out of the pockets of the citizens of each municipality in which they operate, reducing "taxes and fees" paid by the corporates and drivers that would normally go into maintaining municipal operations and thus increasing taxes on the individuals that reside within the municipalities, and distributing that money upward and away from the municipalities in question.

    Perhaps the book should be republished with a new title.

    Uber Shrugged.

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