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Lawsuit accuses Lyft of not dealing with its “sexual predator crisis”

Most people who drive for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft are simply trying to supplement their income or stay busy in retirement. For others, driving is a full-time job. Unfortunately, some of these drivers are predators. In recent years, there have been multiple cases of women being sexually assaulted by drivers.

Recently, 14 of these women filed a lawsuit in California against Lyft, which is headquartered in San Francisco. According to the suit, the company “has been fully aware of these continuing attacks by sexual predators driving for Lyft” and that its “response to this sexual predator crisis amongst Lyft drivers has been appallingly inadequate.”

The plaintiffs say that some of these assaults could have been prevented with “simple changes” to the Lyft app. The suit notes that in one case, the company didn’t even respond to one woman’s report of rape for a week. They are asking for in addition to reimbursement of legal and court costs. They also want the company to take action. One victim says, "I can't imagine another individual having to experience the fear, turmoil and feelings of insignificance that haunt me every day."

The plaintiffs note that passengers aren’t the only ones who need more protection. Sometimes, drivers are the victims. According to the lawsuit, many drivers have installed their own cameras in their vehicles to help discourage attacks from violent passengers -- or at least to provide evidence if they are attacked.

Both Lyft and Uber have stepped up their safety tools in response to incidents of violence. Uber has a number of safety features on its app for drivers and passengers, including a 911 button. Lyft is currently finalizing its implementation of that feature.

One official with Lyft says, “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. However, as the plaintiffs’ attorney notes, "Lyft has had four years to address these issues and they chose not to.”

Unfortunately, companies, schools, religious institutions, medical facilities, youth organizations and other entities sometimes neglect their responsibility to adequately screen those who work for them or to act when claims are made against the people they employ. When that happens, victims may be able to seek justice and compensation through a civil action.

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