Rape Victim Sues Uber After Learning Company Exec Obtained, Shared Her Medical Records

Image courtesy of Elliott Brown

The 2014 rape of an Uber passenger by her driver was in the news again recently when it was reported that an Uber executive had not only obtained the woman’s medical records in an attempt to discredit her, but shared them with others at the company. Now the passenger is suing the ride-hailing service for invading her privacy.

Attorneys for the victim filed the suit today in the Northern District of California. The complaint [PDF] names CEO Travis Kalanick (currently on leave) and two former Uber executives, Eric Alexander and Emil Michael.

News came out last week that Alexander had not only obtained the victim’s medical records, but carried them around with him for a year and showed them to others inside the company, including Kalanick and Michael. The suit says that although the incident took place in Dec. 2014, Alexander held onto the victim’s records until someone in the company made him turn them over in Dec. 2015.

The suit also alleges that after obtaining the records in India and bringing them back to the United States, Alexander showed them to Kalanick and Michael, at which point the three, “discussed the records among themselves and with other staff at Uber, speculating that [the victim] had made up the brutal rape in collusion with a rival of Uber in India in order to undermine Uber’s business.”

The executives used the medical records to try to discredit the victim, the complaint says, and so the victim is suing “for intrusion into private affairs and public disclosure of private facts, as well as for defaming her character.”

The suit also describes Uber’s recent wave of PR woes and its “unrestrained, unethical executives” at length, saying, “Absent public pressure from reporters at publications like the New York Times, Reuters, and Recode, Uber would have continued to reward and promote employees who were unlawfully discriminating against subordinates and brushing complaints of discrimination under the proverbial rug.”

The lawsuit does not seek a specific amount in damages, but rather asserts that “Plaintiff is entitled to recovery against Defendants in an amount to be determined at trial.”

“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 victim’s attorney, Douglas Wigdor, said in a statement.

“Rape denial is just another form of the toxic gender discrimination that is endemic at Uber and ingrained in its culture,” added Wigdor. “Hopefully, this lawsuit coupled with the changes recommended by the independent counsel will create real change and reform at Uber and elsewhere.”