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Uber Fined $59M In California Over Refusal To Share Information On Sexual Assaults

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Uber Fined $59M In California Over Refusal To Share Information On Sexual Assaults

Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) was fined $59 million in California on Monday for failure to comply with administrative laws regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment claims.

What Happened: The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) found the company’s response to questions about a U.S. Safety Report it released in 2019 unsatisfactory. The regulator also mandated that the company will still have to answer certain outstanding questions about passenger safety and earlier incidents of assaults.

Failure to comply with the regulatory instructions could lead to the cancelation of Uber's operating license in the state of California.

The ride-hailing company had earlier dodged many of the regulator’s questions, citing a privacy risk for the individuals directly connected to any incidents.

In January, the judge declined to accept Uber’s defense and suggested that the company could submit the response under a seal to maintain confidentiality. Uber continued to hold its stand, which ultimately resulted in the hefty penalty on Monday.

Why Does It Matter: Considering the confidentiality factor, the Judge presiding over the case suggested the use of unique identifiers instead of the name in order to protect the identity of the victims.

The $59 million penalty was affixed based on a $7,500 fine for each time the company failed to answer questions.

"Uber is a billion-dollar business that can easily afford to pay the $59,085,000.00 penalty," the judge remarked. 

"Even during a pandemic where ridership has undoubtedly declined, Uber’s audited and certified revenues are substantial enough that the penalty amount imposed by this decision does not run afoul of the constitutional limitation against excessive fines."

The U.S. Safety report released in 2019 highlighted over a thousand instances of sexual assaults involving its customers and Uber drivers.

Price Action: On Monday, UBER stock closed 2.22% lower at $51.46.

 

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