Uber has really been busy with improving the safety of its services lately, with stuff like Uber Safe breathalyzer kiosks making its way to select markets worldwide. However, on the other end of the spectrum are numerous safety-related lawsuits instigated against the multinational mobile ride hail company in recent years. As Uber announced yesterday, it has agreed to pay $28.5 million in settlement money to resolve two such litigations initiated by its customers at the Northern California federal court who claimed that the company described the details of its safety practices and related fees charged to passengers in an untrue manner.
The class action lawsuits in question alleged that Uber passengers were paying for "Safe Ride Fees" of up to $2.30 per ride which were supposedly charged in order to support the company's "industry-leading background check process." As was further explained in the legal documentation, the issue with this is that Uber doesn't utilize fingerprint identification which is required by taxi regulations. The two litigations were instigated after San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys started similar cases in 2014. Uber was naturally seeking to dismiss the majority of these lawsuits, claiming that the prosecutors are acting in bad faith and trying to milk them out of "tens of millions of dollars", but the San Francisco Superior Court rejected that request yesterday. This is presumably why Uber quickly decided to settle the aforementioned class action lawsuits as the cases instigated by district attorneys presumably won't end well for the company and could only serve as precedents for an even bigger legal defeat. In addition to paying close to 30 million dollars which can be shared among 25 million or so riders according to Uber, the company also had to give in and rename the said "Safe Ride Fee" into a "Booking Fee". A San Francisco federal judge has yet to sanction this deal, but that's just a formality.
This settlement is only the tip of the legal iceberg troubling Uber, though. Next in line is a lawsuit instigated by Uber drivers who want to be legally classified as employees and consequently be entitled to benefits. This lawsuit was already approved for trial which is starting in June. Regardless of its court dealings, the company has been doing extremely well ever since it was founded in 2009 and investors believe it's still capable of incredible growth, which is reflected by the fact that at the moment, Uber outvalues giants like Ford and General Motors.