Rape vic­tim sues Uber ex­ecs for defama­tion

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Tracey Lien tracey.lien@la­times.com

SAN FRAN­CISCO — A Texas woman who was raped by an Uber driver in In­dia in 2014 filed a law­suit against the ride-hail­ing com­pany on Thurs­day, al­leg­ing that three cur­rent and for­mer ex­ec­u­tives vi­o­lated her pri­vacy and de­famed her when they ac­cessed and shared her med­i­cal records af­ter the at­tack.

The plain­tiff, iden­ti­fied only as Jane Doe, filed the law­suit in the Dis­trict Court of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia against Uber’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Travis Kalan­ick, who took a leave of ab­sence this week; its for­mer head of busi­ness, Emil Michael, who left the com­pany this week; and its for­mer vice pres­i­dent of busi­ness in Asia, Eric Alexan­der, who was fired from the com­pany last week af­ter tech­nol­ogy news site Recode re­ported that he’d ob­tained the records.

Recode also re­ported that, de­spite the Uber driver’s hav­ing been con­victed and sen­tenced to life in prison, the three ex­ec­u­tives ques­tioned whether the plain­tiff ac­tu­ally had been raped and whether she had col­luded with Uber com­peti­tor Ola to tar­nish Uber’s brand.

“It is shock­ing that Travis Kalan­ick could pub­licly say that Uber would do ev­ery­thing to sup­port our client and her family in her re­cov­ery when he and other ex­ec­u­tives were re­view­ing il­le­gally ob­tained med­i­cal records and en­gag­ing in of­fen­sive and spu­ri­ous con­spir­acy the­o­ries about the bru­tal rape she so trag­i­cally suf­fered,” said Dou­glas H. Wig­dor, the plain­tiff ’s at­tor­ney.

The law­suit ac­cuses the three ex­ec­u­tives of in­tru­sion into pri­vate af­fairs, pub­lic dis­clo­sure of pri­vate facts and defama­tion. It asks for a jury trial and un­spec­i­fied dam­ages.

“No one should have to go through a hor­rific ex­pe­ri­ence like this, and we’re truly sorry that she’s had to re­live it over the last few weeks,” an Uber spokesman said.

The law­suit is an­other set­back for the ride-hail­ing com­pany. CEO Kalan­ick an­nounced this week that he is tak­ing a leave of ab­sence fol­low­ing an in­de­pen­dent investigation into Uber’s cor­po­rate cul­ture.

A separate investigation into the com­pany ex­am­ined 215 em­ployee com­plaints about sex­ual ha­rass­ment, dis­crim­i­na­tion, bul­ly­ing and re­tal­i­a­tion, cul­mi­nat­ing in the ter­mi­na­tion of 20 em­ploy­ees.

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