This article discusses Uber’s response to growing public disapproval of mandatory arbitration requirements, especially in cases involving sexual assault or harassment. On May 15, 2018, Uber announced that it would immediately end its practice of forcing victims of sexual assault and harassment (employees and customers) to submit their claims to binding arbitration. Forced arbitration requires claims to be decided behind closed doors rather than in open court and prevents individual claimants from joining in class actions.
Lyft similarly dropped its forced arbitration requirement for sexual harassment claims. And in December 2017, Microsoft eliminated its forced arbitration requirement for sexual harassment claims. Microsoft also publicly supported a proposed federal law banning confidentiality requirements for sexual harassment victims. These voluntary moves are limited. For one, Uber’s mandatory arbitration clause still applies in other disputes, like discrimination or wage claims.
Voluntary moves like this might become more common as legislators consider limiting or outright banning mandatory arbitration clauses. New York, for example, recently passed a law that bans mandatory arbitration clauses in sexual harassment settlements. Washington is the first state to pass a law voiding employment agreements that require arbitration or otherwise preclude an employee from pursuing a harassment or discrimination claim in open court. SB 6313 was signed into law on March 21, 2018 and will go into effect on June 7, 2018.