Uber will no longer silence victims of sexual assault

Tony West now Uber's chief legal officer back in 2014 when he worked in the Justice Department under Eric Holder

West, a former Justice Department official who joined Uber in November, said its new policy applied to people now in arbitration with Uber over sexual assault of harassment claims.

Starting immediately, customers with assault claims against Uber drivers will no longer be forced to pursue their cases through arbitration.

"When it comes to sexual assault, sexual harassment, one of the things we learned is it's very important to make sure that survivors have control and agency, and we want to be able to give them the choice of form", West said Tuesday, only on "CBS This Morning". "So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer".

Tony West, Uber's chief legal officer and former associate attorney general during the Obama administration, said the decision for survivors to tell their stories, if they choose, "ought to reside with the survivor".

In December, Microsoft announced it was eliminating forced arbitration agreements with employees who made sexual assault or harassment claims.

Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler - who was instrumental in highlighting internal problems with sexual harassment and sexism at Uber when she blogged about her experiences at the company previous year - also urged CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to end the policy.

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Uber is due to respond in court by Wednesday about whether it will require the women in the proposed class action suit to carry out their assault claims in arbitration.

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.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the move was "an important step forward in our commitment to safety and transparency". I will tell you that, when this data is actually published as part of the safety transparency report, I think those numbers are going to be disturbing.

He also flags the problem of crimes of sexual violence being underreported. Survivors of sexual misconduct can also settle claims with Uber without having to sign a confidentiality agreement.

There is no publicly available data for the number of sexual assaults by Uber drivers or drivers of other rideshare companies.

"We're working with experts in the field to develop a taxonomy to categorize the incidents that are reported to us", adds West.

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