Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook  | Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Popular ride-hailing service Uber will give its U.S. passengers and drivers more leeway to pursue claims of sexual misconduct in its latest attempt to shed its reputation for brushing aside bad behavior.

Uber’s policy shift, announced on Tuesday, will allow riders and drivers to file allegations of rape, sexual assault and harassment in courts and mediation, rather than being locked into an arbitration hearing.

Survey: Average Starting Salary For Class Of 2018 Will Be Just Over $50,000

The San Francisco-based company is also giving victims the choice of whether they want to make their allegations public.

In the past, victims were forced to keep incidences confidential.

It’s a conciliatory step from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Last August, Khosrowshahi was hired amid a wave of revelations and allegations about rampant sexual harassment in Uber’s workforce, a cover-up of a massive data breach, dirty tricks and stolen trade secrets.

Khosrowshahi has vowed to “do the right thing,” repair the damage from previous missteps and lure back alienated riders who defected to rivals such as Lyft.

The changes governing sexual misconduct come a month after Uber announced it will do criminal background checks on its U.S. drivers annually and add a 911 button for summoning help in emergencies. It’s an effort to reassure its riders and address concerns that it hadn’t done enough to keep crooks from using its service to prey on potential victims.

Study Shows Yogurt May Reduce Inflammation

Giving victims of sexual assault or perceived sexual harassment more options sends an important message that Uber is taking the issue more seriously, said Kristen Houser, a spokeswoman for Raliance, a coalition of groups working with Uber to prevent sexual abuse on its service.

And while the move serves to promote safety and aid the company’s reputation, it could also lead to more complaints. For example, Houser said riders may now be more confident to report inappropriate behavior.

“You want people to report lower-level infractions so you can nip them in the bud before they become bigger problems,” she said.

By the end of the year, Uber will also start to publicly report incidents of alleged sexual misconduct in hopes of establishing more transparency about the issue throughout the ride-hailing and traditional taxi industries.

“We think the numbers are going to be disturbing,” said Tony West, a former government prosecutor during the Obama administration who became Uber’s chief legal officer after Khosrowshahi took over.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)