SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (CN) - A woman whose Uber driver raped her in New Delhi, India, sued the ride-sharing company in federal court Thursday, claiming Uber executives illegally obtained her medical records in an attempt to discredit her traumatic story.
The woman, named simply as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, accused Uber executives, including embattled founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, of defamation, publicly disclosing private facts and a host of other charges related to the alleged theft of her medical records with the purpose of discrediting her.
Doe claims that she was “violated physically when she was brutally raped in Delhi, India by her Uber driver in December 2014.” Then, “in the United States, Uber executives violated her a second time by unlawfully obtaining and sharing her medical records from that vicious sexual assault,” according to the complaint.
Doe says Uber has yet to apologize for its “outrageous conduct.”
A court in India convicted Doe’s rapist, Shiv Kumar Yadav. The subsequent press coverage captured international headlines and fueled customers’ ongoing safety concerns about whether Uber was properly vetting its drivers.
Kalanick issued a statement on behalf of the company in the immediate aftermath of the initial incident. “We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery,” he said.
However, Uber did no such thing, according to Doe. Instead Kalanick, Emil Michael and Eric Alexander — two other Uber executives — began to question the veracity of her account, she says.
Alexander traveled to New Delhi and managed to obtain Doe’s medical records that were taken after Doe reported the rape to the authorities, according to the complaint.
After viewing the medical records, Doe says the trio of executives began to concoct a story about how a rival ride-sharing company was actually the party responsible for the rape.
“Alexander, Kalanick and Michael discussed the records among themselves and with other staff at Uber, speculating that Plaintiff had made up the brutal rape in collusion with a rival of Uber in India in order to undermine Uber’s business,” Doe says in the complaint.
Doe adds that, “This flagrantly irresponsible, defamatory and offensive theory concocted by Alexander, Kalanick and Michael has no rational basis.”
Doe and her attorneys also place blame on Uber’s corporate culture, implemented by Kalanick and other executives.
“Uber’s goal of dominating and controlling the emerging ride-hailing market at the expense of a healthy workplace culture free of unlawful invasions of privacy and discrimination is a calculated decision made by senior executives that continues through the present,” Doe claims in the complaint.
Uber did not refute the allegations, but pointed to an earlier 2015 settlement with the same woman over the same allegations.
“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 spokesperson said in a statement.
Doe is seeking damages and a permanent injunction that describes the alleged conduct as illegal.
She is represented by Douglas Wigdor of Anderson & Poole PC based in New York.
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