SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Two women who allege that Uber drivers sexually assaulted them, one in Boston and the other in South Carolina, can sue the ride-hailing company, a federal judge said.
The women showed the possibility that the drivers were Uber employees who acted within the scope of their employment, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco ruled Wednesday.
Uber had argued that the drivers were independent contractors and at least one of them may not have used the company cellphone app, where customers book rides, before the alleged assault.
"It may be that facts will ultimately be revealed that disprove plaintiffs' allegations or that tilt the scales toward a finding that Uber drivers are independent contractors," Illston said. "However, taking the allegations in the amended complaint as true, plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts that an employment relationship may plausibly exist."
The judge rejected Uber's move to dismiss the women's lawsuit, although she threw out a negligence claim related to one of the drivers. Illston also said the women could pursue punitive damages and a fraud claim against Uber.
The San Francisco-based company declined to comment on the ruling.
The Boston driver, Abderrahim Dakiri, was convicted earlier this year of assault and battery. He was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to stay away from the victim, the campuses of her school and her workplace.
The South Carolina driver was arrested last year on suspicion of kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct.