The Indian woman who was raped by her Uber driver in New Delhi in 2014, and who sued and settled with the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company in 2015, is suing the company and its executives again.
The woman, who remains anonymous and relocated to Texas in 2016, filed a lawsuit against Uber, its CEO Travis Kalanick and now former executives Eric Alexander and Emil Michael, alleging that they invaded her privacy and defamed her by illegally obtaining and circulating her medical records within the company following the incident. She is pursuing her claim in a federal court in the Northern District of California.
The court filing alleges that just a few days after the victim was raped in December 2014, Eric Alexander, Uber’s then head of business for Asia Pacific, met with Delhi police and obtained her confidential medical records. Lawyers in India that BuzzFeed News spoke to had said that there was no way Uber could have accessed the records legally.
The filing also alleges that Uber continues to retain a copy of the records despite reports that said the company destroyed them after discovering that Alexander had kept them with him for nearly a year after the incident.
“Rape denial is just another form of the toxic gender discrimination that is endemic at Uber and ingrained in its culture,” the woman's New York-based lawyer Douglas Wigdor said in a statement. “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.”
The woman previously sued Uber over her rape in 2015. Wigdor told BuzzFeed News via email that he is unable to comment on "any purported settlement." It is unclear if there were any terms in that settlement, which was not made public, that would prevent the woman from pursuing litigation over the incident again.
"As a general proposition, however, a release cannot be forward looking so can only release a company for acts prior to the execution of a release," he wrote.
In a response to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News, an Uber spokesperson said: “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.
On Twitter, Susan Fowler — the engineer whose public allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination launched the internal investigation at Uber — lauded the lawsuit, citing the fact that Uber passengers have a right that Uber employees are forced to forfeit: the right to sue.
Ryan Mac is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on the intersection of money, technology and power.
Contact Ryan Mac at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caroline O'Donovan is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Caroline O'Donovan at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.