The ride-sharing company Lyft (LYFT) is mishandling what is being referred to as a “sexual predator crisis” involving its drivers, a recent lawsuit alleges, which includes neglecting to use its own technology to protect passengers and inadequately responding to reports of sexual abuse.
The case was filed Wednesday on behalf of 14 women who claim they were sexually assaulted by their drivers in 2018 and 2019. Five women allege they were raped, including one woman who is blind.
While Lyft has billed itself as a socially conscious alternative to rival Uber Technologies (UBER), Gladys Arce, 40, a mother of four, told reporters she was kidnapped for hours by a driver who vacillated between declarations of love and threats of violence before raping her. Even months after she filed a police report, she says, the investigator on her criminal case told her the man was still driving for Lyft.
“We were doing the right thing. We were getting a Lyft driver to get home safely,” Arce said. “A drive that should have been 10, 15 minutes turned into a nightmare.”
Comprehensive Safety Measures
A press conference has just started, that is being held by attorney Steven Estey, who is in charge of the case. Victims are asking for more comprehensive safety measures from Lyft, including random drug and alcohol testing.
“It’s mind-blowing the number of inquiries we get a week,” said attorney Estey of Estey Bomberger, the firm that filed the suit. “It’s absolutely crazy.”
While it had been a rough period for LYFT stock, the company reported better-than-anticipated revenue growth and other positive metrics in August, despite a $644 million loss for the quarter, which gave Lyft and Uber stocks a boost in regular trading, prior to Uber’s earnings release.
Lyft spokeswoman Lauren Alexander affirmed the company’s commitment to safety in a statement.
“We do not tolerate harassment or violence on our platform, and such behavior can and does result in a permanent ban from our service,” Alexander said. “We have made it a priority to continually invest in features that put riders in control of their experience.”
LYFT is currently up roughly 2% on the day and has flattened out in after-hours trading.
Investors looking to participate in ETFs that offer access to the transportation and ridesharing industry might consider the Renaissance IPO ETF (IPO), which holds Uber and Lyft, the ClearBridge Large Cap Growth ESG ETF (LRGE), or the WisdomTree Modern Tech Platforms Fund (PLAT).
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