By Kirsten Korosec
May 15, 2018

Lyft followed Uber on Tuesday in ending forced arbitration agreements for employees, drivers, and passengers over sexual harassment and assault allegations, bowing to criticism that practice discouraged women from coming forward about sexual misconduct.

“The #metoo movement has brought to life important issues that must be addressed by society, and we’re committed to doing our part,” a Lyft spokeswoman said in a statement.

Companies often require employees to agree to arbitration instead of civil suits when bringing complaints against their employer. Critics complain that the practice favors corporations because it blocks any public airing of problems and tends to end in smaller settlements.

Forced arbitration been a particularly prickly issue at Uber, which has faced a string of sexual harassment claims in recent years from employees and riders.

Uber says its decision to eliminate forced arbitration, announced hours before Lyft did on Tuesday, is part of a broader effort to enhance the safety of its service. However, an Uber spokesman added that arbitration isn’t necessarily bad.

“Arbitration is an appropriate form of dispute resolution that is often more beneficial for the parties than going to court,” the spokesman said. “However, the company decided in these personal and difficult set of claims the company wanted to give survivors the choice to seek redress in the venue of their choice, whether that’s mediation, arbitration, or open court.”

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