By Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P] / Bay City News
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Thursday approved a $9 million settlement agreement with San Francisco-based ride-sharing service Uber related to allegations of sexual harassment and assault.
The settlement between the CPUC's Division of Enforcement and Consumer Protection, Uber, and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) follows CPUC allegations that Uber failed to respond to its requests for information about sexual assaults and harassment involving passengers and drivers.
Thus, Uber will pay $9 million to support passenger safety initiatives, including $5 million to the California Victim Compensation Board,which will be used for victims of sexual assault and violence, and $4 million to address physical and sexual violence in the industry.
"We are pleased that the full Commission adopted this agreement, which was developed in collaboration with CPUC staff and RAINN experts. Most importantly, we can move forward with a solution that preserves the privacy and agency of survivors," Uber said in a statement.
In a blog post titled "Always looking out for your safety," published Thursday morning, the company provided an overview of some recent safety improvements, including the launch of a pilot program in the U.S. for a ride audio recording option and updated RideCheck technology to detect when a ride takes an unexpected route or when a trip ends unexpectedly early.
If a problem is detected, the passenger and driver can respond that all is well or use an emergency button, as well as report a problem to Uber's Safety Incident Reporting Line.
The audio feature has been used in Latin America and is being tested in three U.S. cities.
Under the settlement, Uber also agreed to pay a $150,000 fine to the state's general fund and provide information about future incidents of sexual assault and harassment to the CPUC, among other agreed-upon policy changes.
You may be interested in: San Mateo launches program to address mental health emergencies