14 women have come forward and filed a lawsuit against the popular transportation company Lyft.

The 40-page lawsuit filed in San Francisco states that between 2018 and 2019, the 14 women (from multiple states) were raped or assaulted by drivers employed by Lyft.

According to the lawsuit, Lyft was aware of multiple sexual assault allegations but failed to take appropriate action.

“At least as early as 2015, LYFT became aware that LYFT drivers were sexually assaulting and raping female customers… Complaints to LYFT by female customers who have been attacked by LYFT drivers, combined with subsequent criminal investigations by law enforcement, clearly establish that LYFT has been fully aware of these continuing attacks by sexual predators driving for LYFT.”

The lawsuit also claims that Lyft received at least 100 reports of sexual assault… in a single state.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Lyft has come under fire for sexual assault allegations.

In April 2018, a CNN investigation found that 18 Lyft drivers and a whopping 103 Uber drivers had been accused of sexual assault. Only 4 out of the 18 drivers were convicted.

At the time, a Lyft spokesperson told CNN,

“The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority.”

But, clearly, not much has changed.

The lawsuit chronicles the attacks of the 14 women, with six of the women falling asleep during the ride and waking with their Lyft drivers sexually assaulting them. In one instance, two friends, under the aliases Jane Roe 13 and 14, from Chicago, were both assaulted by driver Eduardo Barrios.

“Plaintiff [13] discovered that Eduardo Barrios had put her phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode so that she would not receive calls or texts.”

Once at on the front porch of Jane Roe 13’s home, Eduardo “forcefully stuck his tongue in her [Jane Roe 13] mouth, rubbed her legs, and stuck his hand up her shorts touching her vagina and trying to digitally penetrate plaintiff.”

After Jane Roe 13 was able to get away, Eduardo drove Jane Roe 14 home.

Roe 14 awoke with Eduardo “kissing and touching her neck and had his hands inside of her shorts touching her vagina.” Roe 14 was able to escape and called Roe 13, unaware that Barrios had put her friend’s phone on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting.

Thankfully, Roe 13 reported both incidents to Lyft and the police. Lyft sent Roe 13 an email saying that they had spoken with the driver and handled it “in the appropriate manner, to ensure the safety of the platform.” However, Lyft never contacted Roe 13 and Roe 14 again and it is unknown if he is still driving for the company.

The details of the assaults are all disturbing but one of the most shocking attacks happened to Jane Roe 10, a blind woman from Alabama.

Roe 10 relied on Lyft to do her everyday activities and on January 3, 2018, she requested a Lyft to take her to the grocery store. Her driver, Christopher offered to give her a free ride home. He then forced himself inside her home.

“… She heard him walk in all the rooms… she asked him to leave but he took her cane from her and hid it. He then raped her. Jane Roe 10 thought she was going to be killed.”

Like Jane Roe’s 13 and 14, Jane Roe 10 contacted both Lyft and the police. However, the police closed the investigation and told Roe 10 that Christopher could not be prosecuted because “they had no evidence that the incident was not consensual.”

Like most of the attacks, it is unknown if Christopher was ever terminated.

In April 2019, Lyft released a blog post that claimed they would do more to ensure the safety of their passengers. Instead of doing just one background check, Lyft decided they would conduct continuous background checks on their drivers.

“This will provide Lyft with daily monitoring of its active drivers and immediate notification of any disqualifying criminal convictions. Any driver who does not pass both the annual and continuous screenings will be barred from our platform.”

But there’s one major problem with Lyft’s background check system.

In order for Lyft to know if one of their drivers is a sex offender or on the sex offender registry, they have to be convicted. According to the RAINN, 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police. This means that three out of four sexual assaults and rapes go unreported, making Lyft’s background checks nearly useless to potential passengers.

Lyft can do so much to protect their passengers, yet they haven’t taken the right steps to implement change. The lawsuit suggests that besides instilling a zero-tolerance policy, Lyft should “implement a surveillance camera within the App that can audio and video record all rides and have footage saved and accessible for up to 72 hours after each ride.”

If a driver turns off the surveillance, they are immediately terminated. And under no circumstances should a driver leave their car or enter a passenger’s home.

Another solution that would put many women’s minds at ease is giving them the option to choose a female driver. Obviously, the option won’t eliminate the sexual assault problem completely, but allowing women to choose who will be driving them will help them feel safe and more comfortable.

In a statement, Lyft’s head of safety and trust said,

“As a platform committed to providing safe transportation, we hold ourselves to a higher standard by designing products and policies to keep out bad actors, make riders and drivers feel safe, and react quickly if and when an incident does occur. 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.”

Unfortunately, for many women, Lyft’s promise to do better is too little too late. All we can ask for is that they take the proper steps to protect their passengers in the future.

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Feature photo by Scott Webb

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