Rape victim sues Uber executives, claims defamation and privacy violations

Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick is at the center of a privacy violation and defamation lawsuit. The embattled executive announced this week he was taking a leave of absence.
(Money Sharma / AFP/Getty Images)

A Texas woman who was raped by an Uber driver in India in 2014 filed a lawsuit against the ride-hailing company on Thursday, alleging that three current and former executives violated her privacy and defamed her when they accessed and shared her medical records after the attack.

The plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe, filed the lawsuit in the District Court of Northern California against Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick (who took a leave of absence this week), its former head of business, Emil Michael (who left the company this week) and its former vice president of business in Asia, Eric Alexander (who was fired from the company last week after technology news site Recode reported that he’d obtained the records).

Recode also reported that, despite the Uber driver’s having been convicted and sentenced to life in prison, the three executives questioned whether the plaintiff actually had been raped and whether she had colluded with Uber competitor Ola to tarnish Uber’s brand.


“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,” said Douglas H. Wigdor, the attorney representing the plaintiff.

The lawsuit accuses the three executives of intrusion into private affairs, public disclosure of private facts and defamation. It asks for a jury trial and unspecified damages.

“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 spokesman said.

The lawsuit is another setback for the ride-hailing company, whose CEO announced this week that he is taking a leave of absence following an independent investigation into the company’s corporate culture.

A separate investigation into the company examined 215 employee complaints about sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and retaliation, culminating in the termination of 20 employees.


Twitter: @traceylien


Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is on leave. Now what?

Michael Hiltzik: Uber’s big report proves that the company still doesn’t understand its problems

Have investors allowed tech founders like Uber’s Travis Kalanick to grow too powerful?