Uber facing federal lawsuit after woman accuses driver of rape in India

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The Uber app on a cellphone.

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(PIX11) — She is unknown, listed simply as a Jane Doe.

However, her story is widely known: A female executive allegedly beaten and raped by her Uber driver in India back in early December. The incident has sparked protests in India. Meanwhile here stateside, it has launched a 36-page federal lawsuit filed on Thursday in California.

Jeanne Chistensen of Wigdor LLP in Midtown represents the alleged rape victim in the lawsuit. When asked whether or not what happened in New Delhi can happen in New York City, Christensen answered, “Absolutely.”

In fact, the lawsuit is littered with alleged sexual assaults and rapes in numerous cities including, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Chicago, Orlando, Boston, San Francisco
and Atlanta. The lawsuit states that Uber is more focused on its bottom-line profit than safety.

“It’s as safe as the driver who is driving you,” said Christensen in regards to Uber’s safety.

In fact, she says that Uber is equivalent to electronic hitchhiking,. “By calling that car, you agree to get into a private individuals vehicle, who has no oversight by a company. Who has never been interviewed by Uber before he was hired. Who has no oversight whatsoever, and you’re essentially riding in the back of his car.”

Christensen adds that the lack of oversight is there from the get-go. “You don’t even have to go in for an interview. You can do everything on line and get hired.”

What makes this case unique is that the victim also lists 13 changes that Uber needs to implement to make it safer for female passengers. The measures range from installing in-app panic buttons, to GPS tracking systems on all vehicles, to the option of requesting a female driver.

Christensen summed it up in three words, “It’s hugely significant.” Christensen said her client’s case is “hugely significant” in trying to establish safety regulations for the rest of the world.

“Potentially everywhere if Uber adopts even three out of our suggestions it would make a big difference.”

PIX11 News did reach out to Uber for comment in response to the federal lawsuit.

“Our deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime. We are cooperating fully with the authorities to ensure the perpetrator is brought to justice,” the statement from Uber read.

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