Latina’s Horrifying Uber Kidnapping Story Is A Reminder That Uber’s Vetting Process Is Not Built To Protect Women From Violence
Last year in July, Elizabeth Suarez broke her ankle, wrist and recieved seven staples in her head after she jumped out of a speeding car to escape an Uber driver trying to kidnap her. This week, she spoke with CNN news about the incident after University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson was murdered by a driver pretending to be an Uber driver.
Speaking to CNN Suarez detailed the events of her attack from last year.
After a night of gambling, Elizabeth Suarez says she ordered an Uber on her phone and headed out to the valet where a car drove up and gestured her over. “I said ‘hi are you here for Liz?'” She explained in an interview with CNN.”And hee goes ‘yeah get in.'”
Suarez, who had driven Uber countless times since college, says she didn’t think any thing of it when she got into the car. “We started driving about five minutes later I get a call from my real Uber and he’s like I’m outside of the Uber where are you?”
The realization that she’d gotten into a car with the wrong person sent her into a complete panic. “I didn’t freeze up I knew I had to get out of the situation because he was in full control he could do whatever he wanted and so I just knew get out, get out, keep thinking on my toes. “
After the man pulled her into a deserted parking lot and demanded she give him her wallet and phone, he began to speed up the car. That’s when Suarez jumped out. She broke her wrist, fractured her ankle and winded up in a hospital where she received seven staples to her scalp. Still, she managed to escape an uncertain but potentially lethal fate.
While the murder of Josephson has brought national attention to the kidnappings and sexual assaults by assailants posing as ride-share drivers, thousands of female riders have experienced assault by drivers.
Last year, a woman employee penned a blog post that alleged the company had created an environment where female staffers were subject to sexual harassment. Last month, three Latina employees sued the company over unequal pay. This time, the ride-sharing company has been hit with a lawsuit that alleges they’ve been negligent on incidents of rape and assault experienced by women using their service.
Uber’s latest lawsuit claims that thousands of female riders have experienced abuse at the hands of the company’s employed drivers.
Last year, a lawsuit filed Tuesday in San Francisco, alleges that female riders had endured rape, harassment and assault from drivers who were working as employees under the ride share company.
A portion of the filed complaint claims that the company skips a general vetting process for its drivers in an attempt to maintain high profits. The lawsuit argues that the company has experienced an ongoing harassment and assault problem as a result and has ultimately put thousands of women at risk. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit are looking to open up the suit to a class-action status.
“Uber has done everything possible to continue using low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks on drivers and has failed to monitor drivers for any violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired,” the complaint reads according to USA Today.
The complaint alleges that Uber has avoided regulations typically placed on transportation companies by labeling themselves as a “technology platform.”
The lawsuit underlines the fact that California drivers using private transportation carriers are typically held to a higher “duty of care,” in terms of monitoring and vetting their operators. Meaning, by law, taxi cab and limousine companies are required to run criminal background checks on their drivers and ensure that they are monitored. Uber, according to the claim, avoids these standards by not being licensed as a private transportation carrier.
In an effort to ensure the safety of future female riders, the complaint is demanding that Uber make “drastic changes” to its policies.
Jeanne Christensen, a lawyer on the case, concluded in a statement reported by USA Today that the company “must come forward with information about how many reports it has received about rapes, sexual assaults and gender-motivated harassment to allow consumers to assess whether Uber really does provide safe rides, especially to women.”
The suit has been brought forward by a victim whose accusations of rape against an Uber driver were confirmed by the driver himself.
The plaintiff, known on court documents as Jane Doe, ordered an Uber ride home in October of 2016 after a night of drinking in Miami-Dade County. She was barely conscious when her driver, Nimer Abdullah, took her up to her apartment and raped her in her own bed. Doe reported the rape to police the next morning and Abdullah was ultimately arrested and charged with two counts of sexual battery. He eventually confessed to police that he had raped Doe and admitted to being aware that she was drunk while he assaulted her. When Doe contacted Uber about the incident, she was told they would be “taking the appropriate action here.” According to her complaint, the company never confirmed that Abdullah had been deactivated from being a driver for the company. To compensate her, they offered to refund her the $9.51 she had paid for her ride.
The other plaintiff in the case is a Los Angeles resident who said she had also been intoxicated when she ordered an Uber in January of this year. On her ride home, her driver sexually assaulted her in his car and then followed her into her home and raped her.
The attacks on the two plaintiffs were avoidable had Uber done its due diligence, but they’re also just two examples of a stream of similar incidents.
Not only does the lawsuit cite various other cases of sexual assault, but it also highlights hundreds of public tweets from women who had complained about Uber drivers during the #MeToo campaign.
CASA- Check, Ask, Share, be Aware
Check the license plate as well as the car’s make and mode and driver’s picture. Ask the driver to identify you by name before you get into the car. NEVER tell the driver your name, have them confirm it. Share your location and picture of license plate with a friend or family member and be aware of your surroundings, driver’s behavior and travel route.