In 17 new lawsuits by passengers and drivers of the ridesharing company Lyft, the San Francisco-based company is accused of doing practically nothing to help victims who reported sexual and other physical assaults, NPR reports. Attorneys and victims called on Lyft to make its service safer by installing cameras inside of all Lyft vehicles, conducting biometric fingerprint scans and background checks of drivers, and eliminating a policy that allows users to order a Lyft ride for someone else.
At a press conference to announce the lawsuits, five of the plaintiffs shared stories, including a Phoenix woman whose driver made unwanted sexual advances throughout the drive, she said, and then sexually assaulted her outside her home, allegedly threatening retaliation if she reported him, saying "I know where you live." She and other victims said Lyft said only that it was sorry for their experience and would suspend the driver. Two drivers who were assaulted by passengers said Lyft offered them a few hundred dollars after they reported their assaults, but did not follow through. A Lyft spokesperson said the company requires yearly background checks for drivers, and that it cooperates with all law enforcement investigations when presented with a valid request. The spokesperson also said all drivers are required to take a community safety education course before driving. In 2021, Lyft revealed it had received over 4,000 reports of sexual assault from its users between 2017 and 2019.