Just when we thought Uber's image couldn't get any worse. A Boston Uber driver has been charged with rape after picking up a female passenger and taking her to a secluded area. This is just the latest in a series of rape accusations made against the ride-sharing company, and one of countless scandals and setbacks Uber has faced in the last year alone. But nowhere is there more resistance to the company than the state of Massachusetts, which has made several attempts to ban and sue Uber.
According to a statement by Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan and Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas, the incident occurred on December 6 at around 7:30 p.m. The driver allegedly picked up a female passenger and told her she'd have to pay by cash. After she stopped by an ATM, he allegedly drove her to a secluded location, stopped, jumped into the back seat, and hit the woman, said investigators. Prosecutors also allege that he strangled her, sexually assaulted her, locked the doors so she couldn't escape, and covered her mouth so she couldn't scream.
On Wednesday, Done was arraigned at Cambridge District Court and held without bail after pleading not guilty to charges of rape, assault to rape, kidnapping, and two counts of assault and battery.
The Boston rape charge comes after Uber drivers in DC, LA, and most notably Delhi were accused of rape. However, no charges were filed against the drivers in DC and LA. The transportation company has also faced accusations of verbal assault, and after one female passenger in London alleged that her driver sexually harassed her, Uber apparently responded by giving her a £20 credit toward her next ride. Who is running things over there?
So what's Uber future looking like in the state of Massachusetts? In order to answer that, let's look to the past. Here's a brief — and contentious — history of Uber in Massachusetts.
In 2012, the Division of Standards of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued Uber Boston a cease and desist, claiming that the technology Uber uses violated existing law and regulations. The Division of Standards ordered the company to shut down until the National Institute of Standards and Technology implemented guidelines for GPS technology. However, the ban was overturned by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
In June, the Cambridge License Commission proposed new regulations that would require Uber to make major reforms. Examples of these regulations included requiring any taxi service not registered with the city to charge a minimum of $50 per ride and prohibiting residents from using on-demand service from anyone other than a city taxi. The proposal angered Uber fans, who took to social media to show their support.
Exploiting Its Drivers
Also in June, a prominent Boston labor lawyer, Shannon Liss-Riordan, filed a class action lawsuit against Uber accusing the company of misidentifying its drivers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying them employee wages and giving them benefits. The suit also alleges that Uber retains a portion of the drivers' gratuity, which violates the state's tips law.
In November, Uber was hit with another class action lawsuit, this time accusing the company of levying a mysterious $8.75 charge dubbed the "Logan Massport Surcharge & Toll" on riders traveling to Logan Airport. The lawsuit states:
Uber has imposed the fictitious ‘Massport surcharge’ upon tens of thousands of Logan-bound and outbound passengers, and continues to do so.
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