A Westchester woman groped by an Uber driver during a late-night ride home is a “shadow of her former self,” she says in a lawsuit against the ride-sharing company.
The victim, identified in court papers as “Jane Doe,” says the alleged 2018 attack in the back of driver Iqbal Hussain’s Toyota Camry left her with a fractured shoulder, post-traumatic stress disorder and years of anxiety and depression.
“I lost all sense of safety,” she told The Post, speaking publicly about the incident for the first time.
It all could have been prevented if Uber, which long knew thousands of women had been assaulted by its drivers, had taken steps to monitor or screen employees, the victim charges in her Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit.
“Uber knew that women who hired Uber to obtain a safe ride home were actually at risk,” according to the claim.
The incident unfolded on June 8, 2018, when the victim, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, spent a night on the town with friends after a long day at work on Wall Street.
“It was my best friend’s birthday, and I was supposed to stay over at her apartment, and I decided at the last minute I wanted to go home to my husband and my own bed, which I now regret,” she said.
She logged onto the Uber app, and using her VIP status, requested a ride back to her Rye Brook home from Chelsea just after 1 a.m., a trip which should have taken just 40 minutes.
The victim fell asleep on the way — and woke to a nightmare.
“I felt somebody touching me, and I noticed that there’s nobody in the front seat of the car, and I looked around and I notice the car is pulled over on the side of the highway,” she recalled.
As she tried to get her bearings, she realized the driver was sitting next to her, putting his hand underneath her dress, she claims.
“You just kind of go into survival mode. I just tried to punch him as hard as I could in the temple,” the victim said, crying. “Then he grabbed my right wrist and twisted my right arm, and I screamed for him to stop, because I was in excruciating pain.”
The attack stopped, and Hussain resumed driving her home.
With just a single vehicle having passed by them on the empty highway, the panicked victim felt she had no choice but to stay in the car.
Hussain acted “as if nothing had happened,” the woman charges in the legal papers.
“All I could think was, ‘Am I going to make it home OK?’” she said, fearful of spooking her attacker into doing something else.
The next day, the woman, who suffered a fractured shoulder in the assault, went to Westchester cops.
Hussain, who could not be reached for comment, was arrested and eventually charged with first-degree sexual assault — but later acquitted during a 2019 trial after questions were raised about where the assault occurred.
The assault changed her life, said the victim, who still suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety as a result.
“I was scared to leave my house after this,” she recalled.
“I was really depressed. I couldn’t get out of bed. I don’t sleep through the night, still,” she said. “… I started to feel like I was losing myself.”
Nearly 6,000 women were assaulted during Uber rides in 2017 and 2018 alone, the company said in December.
“I’m part of that statistic — those 6,000 people,” the victim said.
But many of those assaults were shrouded in secrecy because at the time, the company required users to submit to mandatory arbitration for any disputes, including sexual assault and harassment claims, Jane Doe claims in court papers.
Nothing much has changed, the victim contends.
Uber fails to monitor its drivers either with in-vehicle video or checking when a driver deviates from an assigned route, steps which Jane Doe says could have stopped her attack.
Uber’s advertising, in which the company touts itself as a safe way home for those who have been drinking, ads insult to injury, according to the lawsuit.
“It infuriates me. I don’t think they’re doing enough to protect women. Here they are promoting being a safe ride home,” she said, noting she’d been an Uber VIP for five years. “I had no clue you would basically be on your own if this happens.
“Uber doesn’t take any responsibility for anything.”
Her lawyer, Bill Brewer, said, “Uber knew that this car picked this woman up, they knew where the intended location was and they knew that this Uber driver stopped off route for 15 minutes. They knew it.
“They also know that thousands and thousands of women have been sexually assaulted before that night by their drivers, yet they’re advertising themselves as the safe alternative to a yellow cab or some other type of transit after dark,” he continued.
Uber, which said the city Taxi and Limousine Commission conducts background checks on drivers in the five boroughs, says it cut ties with Hussain as soon as the assault was reported.
The company, which declined comment on the lawsuit, claims it added additional background checks in 2019, and this year began requiring drivers to undergo sexual misconduct training, among other safety measures, including a “Ride Check” feature to flag long, unexpected stops during a trip.