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Rape victim sues Uber over mishandling of her medical records

Rape victim sues Uber over mishandling of her medical records


Her lawyer accuses Uber of ‘rape denialism’

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A woman who was raped in India by an Uber driver in 2014 is suing the ride-hail giant over the alleged mishandling of her medical records. Last week, it was reported that Uber’s top executive in Asia had obtained copies of the woman’s records and shown them to other executives, including CEO Travis Kalanick.

In her scathing lawsuit, the unnamed woman accuses Uber of “[violating] her a second time by unlawfully obtaining and sharing her medical records from that vicious sexual assault.” She also claims that Uber’s executives have “failed, as of the date of this filing, to apologize to her for this outrageous conduct.”

the unnamed woman accuses Uber of “[violating] her a second time”

The woman, identified as “Jane Doe” of Texas, is suing Uber, Kalanick, the company’s former top executive in Asia Eric Alexander, and its former senior vice president for business Emil Michael. According to reports, Alexander obtained the victim’s records on the premise that the allegations were fabricated as sabotage by Uber’s main rival in India, Ola. Both Alexander and Michael have since resigned, while Kalanick has taken a leave of absence from the company.

The lawsuit is the latest scandal to befall Uber, which has been reeling from multiple controversies involving sexism, harassment, and corporate misdeeds since earlier this year. The company just accepted the recommendations from a massive investigation into its toxic workplace that resulted in hundreds of cases of inappropriate behavior and 20 terminations.

Uber says it provided witnesses and evidence for the prosecution during the trial of the driver, who was later sentenced to life in prison. The company also settled a previous lawsuit with the victim in 2015 for over $3 million. But the latest allegations about the handling of her medical records has prompted Doe to seek further redress.

“Rape denial is just another form of the toxic gender discrimination that is endemic at Uber and ingrained in its culture,” Douglas Wigdor, the lawyer representing Doe in the lawsuit, said in a statement. “Hopefully, this lawsuit coupled with the changes recommended by the independent counsel will create real change and reform at Uber and elsewhere.”

Indeed, the lawsuit makes this case further: “By focusing on ‘whether she was really raped at all,’ and painting Plaintiff as an opportunist and a liar, Defendants seemed to be assuring themselves that the only reason why a woman would report a sexual assault is for personal gain, rather than to prevent similar crimes from occurring again or to right an injustice.”

Doe’s lawyer wouldn’t comment on his client’s previous settlement with Uber, nor on whether it would preclude her from seeking further damages from Uber. “As a general proposition, however, a release cannot be forward-looking, so can only release a company for acts prior to the execution of a release,” he said in an email to The Verge.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Uber said, “No one should have to go through a horrific experience like this, and we're truly sorry that she's had to relive it over the last few weeks.”

Doe v. Uber complaint by Russell Brandom on Scribd