Lyft has announced changes to its safety policies following a lawsuit filed by 14 women saying the company didn’t do enough to protect them from sexual assault by drivers or to support them through the process of reporting.

The lawsuit against Lyft alleged that the company allowed known sexual predators to work as drivers and adopted policies to silence survivors, concealing complaints of sexual assault and rape. The women also accused Lyft of being negligent in its background checks, failing to protect its clients.

One of the plaintiffs said in a press conference last week that she was assaulted in Salt Lake City in December of 2018. While the driver was ultimately convicted of misdemeanor battery, she said Lyft declined to say whether he was barred from Lyft’s platform and claimed that police told her the driver continued to work for Lyft while the criminal case against him was still pending.

The company is now expanding its Community Safety Program “to bring riders and drivers greater protection and peace of mind,” Lyft president and co-founder John Zimmer said in a statement. The new safety initiatives include providing easier access to emergency assistance, a way to better predict if a passenger needs help, and requires sexual violence prevention training for drivers.

According to the company, passengers will now be able to access 911 from the Lyft app. Its other two initiatives are promises for the future, however. Later this year, Lyft users will start to receive notifications checking in on them during and after their rides, asking if they need support or emergency assistance.

In addition, the company will partner with anti-sexual assault non-profit Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) to ensure it effectively educates its community, something Uber has also done. Lyft will require its employees to complete mandatory community safety education, and anyone reported for violating them will be removed from the platform or required to complete additional courses.

“Safety is the cornerstone of all healthy communities, and it’s one of the key values Lyft was founded on,” Zimmer said. “We don’t take lightly any instances where someone’s safety is compromised, especially in the rideshare industry, including the allegations of assault in the news last week.”

Sources: ABC News 9/10/19; CNN 9/10/19

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