Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been trying to distance the ride-hailing company from its former bad-boy reputation. On Tuesday morning, Uber pushed out a glossy press release ending its policy of forced arbitration for victims of sexual assault and harassment. It also introduced a new slogan: “We do the right thing, period.”
The dissolution of forced arbitration for those with claims of sexual harassment and assault is an important step in clearing a path for victims to report. Still, this “mantra,” as Uber is calling it, has induced some eye rolls, particularly among people who have long raised concerns over Uber’s questionable labor practices.
“Uber is not ‘doing the right thing’ by continuing to classify its drivers as contractors, particularly in Massachusetts and California, where the law is much stronger in favor of employee protections,” says attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who has been involved in several employee misclassification suits with gig economy players.
She’s not the only attorney taking issue with Uber’s announcement. “The company is ending its long-standing policy of mandatory arbitration only for individual claims, but not for class-action lawsuits, knowing full-well that class actions are the only way most employees can afford to wage such a legal battle,” says Seth Lesser, a legal partner at the workers’ rights law firm Klafter Olsen & Lesser LLP.
Uber drivers, and the employment lawyers who represent them, have long fought for full employment status. One of the big legal factors that stands in their way, these lawyers say, is forced arbitration. “While…