Uber fined $59 million for dodging questions about sexual assaults

Uber has 30 days to pay a $59 million high-quality to California’s Public Utilities Fee (CPUC) for failing to reply the regulator’s questions on a damning safety report launched by the corporate in December 2019. If Uber doesn’t pay up and reply the excellent questions, CPUC may droop the corporate’s license to function within the state, an administrative law judge ruled on Monday.

It’s the newest improvement in Uber’s lengthy historical past of hassle with violence and assault between its drivers and passengers — hassle that competitor Lyft shares, too. Uber didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Information of the high-quality was first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle.

The report, which Uber itself called “jarring” at the time, detailed 1000’s of sexual assaults within the US that occurred in 2017 and 2018 throughout journeys taken with the corporate’s ride-hailing platform. Whereas the 84-page report included a good quantity of knowledge in mixture, CPUC wished to know extra shortly after it was launched — particularly as a result of Uber admitted within the high-quality print that the report didn’t “assess or take any place on whether or not any of the reported incidents truly occurred.”

The CPUC has regulatory authority over transportation corporations within the state and usually investigates complaints in opposition to them. So it requested Uber a handful of questions on who authored the report, and likewise requested Uber for particular particulars on every incident of assault.

Uber by no means answered the questions, claiming that additional disclosure would current a privateness threat for each the assault survivors and its workers. In January 2020, a decide denied the corporate’s request to keep away from answering, saying Uber may file the solutions beneath seal as a way to shield confidentiality. Uber continued to combat answering the CPUC’s questions all year long till up Monday’s ruling, although.

Within the ruling, the decide described these efforts as little greater than “specious authorized roadblocks” meant to “frustrate the Fee’s capability to assemble data” about whether or not Uber is working safely. The decide arrived on the $59 million determine by levying a $7,500 high-quality for each particular time that Uber refused to reply every query through the course of.

“Uber is a billion-dollar enterprise that may simply afford to pay … [e]ven throughout a pandemic the place ridership has undoubtedly declined,” the decide wrote.

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