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Uber launches investigation into allegations of sexual harrassment

23 February, 2017, 01:00 | Author: Abraham Jackson
  • Bloomberg              Travis Kalanick chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc. speaks in London in 2014

Susan Fowler described her year at Uber as "very, very unusual", detailing some of the sexual harassment and discrimination she faced while working as an engineer. Instead, she said she was told her manager was a "high performer" with no previous infractions; she said she was told to move to another team or face a poor performance review. "One HR rep even explicitly told me that it wouldn't be retaliation if I received a negative review later because I had been 'given an option, '" she wrote. The San Francisco-based company was not immediately available for comment.

Other women at the company have experienced the same thing, Fowler wrote in the post, which she says is why the number of women working at the company dwindled during her 12 months there.

Fowler said in the post that she was told she could find another team at Uber to work with, or that she could continue to work with the person she had accused.

Hours after Fowler's post, Travis Kalanick, Uber's chief executive, said it was the first time the issue had come to his attention.

Responding to an open statement by Susan Fowler Rigetti containing the claims, Kalanik tweeted: "What's described here is abhorrent [and] against everything we believe in".

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She alleged that even though the management felt it was "clearly sexual harassment" and the manager was "propositioning" her, they did not take action as "it was this man's first offense, and that they wouldn't feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to". He stated that her blog post is the first time he has heard of anything like this happening at the company, and he has told the firm's new chief human resources officer to investigate her claims.

Eventually, the situation got so bad that Fowler made a decision to transfer to a different engineering organisation within Uber, but despite saying she met all the relevant criteria and having a "perfect performance score", she found her transfer blocked.

In another of Fowler's allegations, managers said the company wouldn't order leather jackets for female employees "because there were not enough women in the organization to justify placing an order". But Financial Times said Fowler's complaints may do more harm than good, given the history of women crying foul over workplace harassment and bias. Adding to the sexism at the organization, Fowler claims internal politics eroded any organization at the company. Fowler previously worked as one of the Uber's engineers from November of 2015 to December of past year.

Ellen Pao had sued Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB), saying she was sacked after complaining about bias at the firm that notably backed Amazon, Facebook and Google.

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