Two Women Have Successfully Won A Sexual Assault Lawsuit Against Uber – But Why Did It Take Four Years To Get Justice?

After the first assault was reported to Uber, the driver was still able to take jobs through the app. A week later, he struck again

Uber sexual assault charges

by Sofia Tindall |
Updated on

This week, Uber paid damages to two women who were assaulted by one of the company's employees, in a first-time case in the UK since the company was founded in 2009. Both women were assaulted in December 2015, by Naveed Iqbal, a taxi driver who had used his brother's Uber login details to use the app as a driver.

In the separate incidents, which took place a week apart, both women reported Iqbal for groping their breasts. The app has been condemned by the legal expert representing both women, Emma Crowther, as a proper investigation of the allegations following the first incident of assault could potentially have prevented the second assault (figures published in 2016 showed that the company received an average of 3 complaints of sexual assault or rape by drivers a month). Speaking about the case, Crowther said 'if Uber had properly investigated the alleged assault suffered by our first client then we believe that the driver would not have been free to go on and pick up the second woman just a week later, during which it is reported he escalated in his abusive behaviour'.

The first woman to be assaulted by Iqbal ordered a cab through the app on December the 6th, 2015 following a night out for her birthday. During the cab ride to her home, she claims that Iqbal attempted to grope her breasts twice. She has also reported that since the incident, she's experienced anxiety and a severe impact on the ability to do her job. Speaking about the way the assault affected her, she said 'When it first happened, my initial reaction was anger and disbelief, but I very quickly developed anxiety. I was aware that the driver knew where I lived and this made me anxious about being at home' going on to explain that she no longer has the confidence to work in her customer-facing role.

Although the incident was reported to Uber, Iqbal was able to continue to take jobs through the app, and he proceeded to assault a second woman just a week later. The second victim reported that after getting into Iqbal's taxi, he groped both her legs and breasts, before forcibly kissing her and attempting to force her to engage in a sex act. 'I now find it difficult to trust others and this has hugely affected my friendships and relationships. I have had a lot of personal issues since the assault.' she said, 'This could have been prevented. I just hope we can now move on with our lives as best we can.’

Meanwhile, the question is: how did it take four years for a complaint originating in 2015 to be resolved? Surely if we're trusting an app like Uber with our personal safety and home addresses, we should be able to trust them to take allegations as grave as sexual assault as a serious matter too? At least, enough to prevent the same driver from repeating the assault a week later, and from putting victims through a four-year wait to be renumerated for the impact it's had on their lives.

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