Uber Fires More Than 20 Staff After Sexual Harassment Probe  


San Francisco: Uber has fired more than 20 employees after a company investigation into sexual harassment claims and workplace culture, reported UK daily the Guardian.

The terminations were announced at a company-wide meeting on Tuesday.  The identities of the terminated employees have not been revealed. According to reports,  some senior executives are among the sacked employees.

The terminations follow an investigation carried out by the law firm Perkins Coie in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment made by Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer who published a viral account of sexual harassment and discrimination at the company.

Fowler, who worked for Uber from November 2015 to December 2016, outlined in a blogpost allegations including claims that her manager propositioned her for sex when she joined and that a director explained the dwindling numbers of women in her organization by saying “the women of Uber just needed to step up and be better engineers”.

She also described a “comically absurd” case of discrimination in which her organization promised leather jackets for everyone, but decided not to order them for women “because there were not enough women in the organization to justify placing an order”.

When she complained, the roughly six women involved “were told that if we wanted leather jackets, we women needed to find jackets that were the same price as the bulk-order price of the men’s jackets”, she wrote.

Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, said at the time: “What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in.”

The day after Fowler’s claims came to light, Uber created an anonymous hotline for staff to report incidents of sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and unprofessional behaviour.

Perkins Coie looked into 215 claims made through the hotline – the majority of which were raised by team members in San Francisco – and took no action in 100 instances. Acting on the law firm’s recommendations, Uber’s human resources team fired “more than 20” employees.

Uber has been taking steps to change company culture following a series of scandals that appeared to demonstrate aggressive business practices and a toxic work environment.

In addition to allegations of sexual harassment, these include a video of Kalanick berating an Uber driver, a legal battle with Google over the alleged theft of driverless car technology, the revelation that Uber used secret “Greyball” software to deceive city regulators, and allegations that the company had another program called “Hell” designed to spy on its arch-rival, Lyft.

Several high-profile employees have left the embattled company in recent months, including the policy and communications vice-president, Rachel Whetstone, and Jeff Jones, Kalanick’s second-in-command, who left the company over what he described as disagreements with leadership.

Last week the company revealed that its chief financial officer, Gautam Gupta, was also leaving.