Two women receive out-of-court settlements after 'sexual assault' allegations against Uber driver in Leeds
Two women have received out-of-court settlements after allegedly being 'sexually assaulted' by an Uber driver in Leeds.
The women, who are now in their 20s and 30s, were reportedly assaulted as they returned from nights out in the city centre.
The first woman was returning from her birthday celebrations when she said the driver groped her breasts twice.
She said the incident "turned her life upside down" as she developed anxiety due to the diver knowing her home address.
It also impacted her career as her confidence levels plummeted leaving her unable to work in her customer facing role.
She said: "My whole life has been turned upside down since that night. When it first happened, my initial reaction was anger and disbelief, but I very quickly developed anxiety. I was aware that the driver knew where I lived and this made me anxious about being at home.
“I suffered from poor concentration, a lack of enjoyment and poor motivation, and I had this feeling of being dirty all the time.
“Everything that has happened has also had a huge impact on my career as I no longer have the confidence to work in a customer facing role.
“I just hope that by speaking out others who may have found themselves in a similar situation don’t feel that they have to suffer in silence.”
A week later, in December 2015, a second woman reported being assaulted by the same Uber driver after a night out with friends.
The woman, who is now in her 20s, claims the man began rubbing her leg and touching her breasts.
He then tried to kiss her and force her to engage in a sex act.
She said: “I now find it difficult to trust others and this has hugely affected my friendships and relationships. I have had a lot of personal issues since the assault.
“That one night has had such a negative impact on my life, and to hear it had happened to another woman a week earlier was horrible. This could have been prevented. I just hope we can now move on with our lives as best we can.”
Following the reported assaults, the woman hired abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate.
The legal team argued that Uber was liable for the incidents as it had a duty of care to protect passengers as its drivers were employees.
Uber contested the claims, however, has now agreed undisclosed out of court settlements.
Emma Crowther, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell representing the women said: “These are deeply upsetting cases involving two young women who reported being sexually assaulted by someone entrusted to get them home safely.
“It is even more concerning that if Uber had properly investigated the alleged assault suffered by our first client then we believe that the driver would not have been free to go on and pick up the second woman just a week later, during which it is reported he escalated in his abusive behaviour.
“Both women are still deeply affected by what happened to them. While nothing can ever make up for what has happened we are pleased to have secured these settlements which we believe to be the first of their kind in the UK against Uber. We now hope that the specialist support the women require will help them try and move forward with their lives.”
An Uber spokesman has this afternoon spoken out to distance the company from the driver and his alleged offences.
She said: "There is no place for this kind of behaviour in the Uber community.
"We take all reports very seriously and investigate thoroughly.
"We typically 'waitlist' drivers during investigations and if the allegations prove true, an individual would likely face permanent deactivation.
"We work closely with the police to assist with any investigation."
Uber has come under scrutiny in recent years after a series of sexual assaults by drivers on passengers were reported.
I wasn't until 2018 that the company stopped preventing riders filing sexual assault allegations through courts instead of arbitration hearings.
Sue Pearce MBE, CEO of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland (RCTN) added: “It is always distressing and worrying to hear about sexual assaults and especially those committed by someone who works in a position of trust. The trauma of such assaults can have long lasting effects.
“RCTN and other rape crisis centres are here to support these victims. Our helpline number is 0800 035 2794.”