Uber Sued for Driver's Sexual Comments to 16-Year-Old Girl

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 26, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Some things are just not okay. An Uber driver making unwanted, lewd, sexually harassing comments to riders, male or female, underage or not, just shouldn't happen. As a result of an Uber driver doing so to a 16-year-old rider, the company is now facing a lawsuit.

The teen alleges that, earlier this year, her driver pulled over on the side of a California highway and asked her if she wanted to get in the front seat. She felt pressured into saying yes. He then proceeded to ask her about her virginity, and commented on the fact that he had an erection -- even after finding out she was only sixteen. She was shocked and afraid by the questions and comments, and the lawsuit against Uber followed.

Pleading Specifics

The lawsuit pleads causes of action for gender discrimination, negligent hiring, as well as assault, among other claims, all against Uber. And while Uber is likely to cite that the plaintiff violated the terms of service by signing up for an account when she was under the age of 18, the lawsuit essentially alleges that this is a design defect of the platform. After all, how difficult is it to ensure that users are who they say they are? The fact that Uber does not have sufficient checks in place to prohibit underage users from hailing rides is rather surprising.

Additionally, the negligent hiring claim may be an interesting one as Uber drivers are still technically classified as independent contractors despite having been found to be employees in the past.

Uber Sued for Failing Customer Safety

What this case really boils down to is Uber failing the public when it comes to screening drivers, and potentially failing their drivers by not screening users. While there is no excuse for the driver's behavior, neither is there any excuse for Uber to not heavily vet their drivers, provide anti-sexual harassment training to drivers, conduct fingerprint background checks on drivers, and even monitor rides at random for quality control purposes. It's not like this is a new issue for Uber.

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