Uber Is Reeling from Its Second Major Scandal in 3 Weeks
FEB 20, 2017
Less than a month ago, hundreds of thousands deleted their Uber accounts after the ride-sharing company eliminated surge pricing at JFK during a taxi strike following the announcement of President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Now, Uber’s in hot water once again after a former employee posted a chilling blog post about pervasive sexism and sexual harassment in the office.
In a blog post entitled “Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber” Susan Fowler described her disturbing experience working for the company, saying that Uber allegedly has a culture of harassment and discrimination. Fowler wrote that not only did her male superior solicit her for sex, but the human resources department ignored her reports due to her manager’s high performance:
“It was clear that [the manager] was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR…Upper management told me that he ‘was a high performer’ (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.”
Fowler was told she should either find another team (an undesirable option, considering her expertise with the project) or get a poor performance review from the manager she reported. “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.
Why women are boycotting Uber:
Fowler later discovered after speaking to other female engineers in the company that she was not alone in this mistreatment:
“Some of the women even had stories about reporting the exact same manager I had reported, and had reported inappropriate interactions with him long before I had even joined the company. It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being ‘his first offense,’ and it certainly wasn’t his last.”
Fowler was then blocked from transferring because of “performance problems” that her manager said are “about things outside of work or your personal life.” The percentage of women at Uber dwindled from 35% to 6%.
In addition, an HR rep not only dismissed all Fowler’s claims, but asked her if maybe she was the problem:
“I pointed out that everything I had reported came with extensive documentation and I clearly wasn’t the instigator (or even a main character) in the majority of them — she countered by saying that there was absolutely no record in HR of any of the incidents I was claiming I had reported (which, of course, was a lie, and I reminded her I had email and chat records to prove it was a lie).”
Via email, Uber sent Esquire.com the following statement from CEO Travis Kalanick:
“I have just read Susan Fowler’s blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It’s the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace for everyone and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”
A major company being forced to release two bold public statements about major scandals in just three weeks is eyebrow-raising — and doesn’t exactly bode well for Uber’s future.