In February 2017, Uber’s former employee Susan Fowler wrote a lengthy blog post on her personal website in which she accused Uber of "systemic workplace harassment." The post went viral within a few hours of publishing and the former Uber software engineer came into the limelight for showing the sexist side of Uber’s top management. During her short term at Uber from November 2015 to December 2016, Susan Fowler experienced harassment, approaching the Human Resource department of Uber -- which failed to provide solutions to her problems.

Susan Fowler's story

“I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning,” Fowler wrote in her blog. Fowler also stated that it was not the first incident of workplace harassment reported at Uber.

“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.”

What shocked Fowler was the blatant acceptance of harassment of female workers at Uber while Human Resources continued to cover for Uber’s top executives.

While working at Uber, Fowler interacted with other female employees who experienced similar harassment and received the same no-action response from Human Resources.

Susan Fowler’s blog went viral, resulting in the Social Media campaign #DeleteUberMovement questioning Uber’s workplace policies and showing solidarity with the female employees at Uber.

To rectify the damage, CEO Travis Kalanick released a statement condemning the behavior of Uber executives:

“The behavior described by Fowler was abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in,” Travis Kalanick said.

Echoing Travis, Uber’s Board member Arianna Huffington defended Uber, claiming that “sexual harassment was not a systemic problem at the company.”

Perkins Coie ongoing investigation results

In light of Fowler’s harassment charges, Perkins Coie, the law firm, was hired to investigate Uber’s mismanagement charges and so far their investigation has resulted in the following:

  • 215 incident reports, including sexual harassment, bullying, retaliation and bias
  • 20 terminations and 31 employees sent for counselling
  • 57 cases still open

Among the most disturbing revelations of the investigation is Uber’s Top Executive Eric Alexander’s firing as revealed on Wednesday.

In 2014, a woman was raped in an Uber during a trip in India by a driver who had similar sexual allegations brought against him in the past. Uber was banned from operating for a short time in Delhi until they modified their background checks for the drivers. Not only did Uber fail to do a background check on their driver, after the incident was reported, Uber got their top executive to lift the ban after Uber received backlash for their poor background checks and endangering the safety of customers. This is the statement released by Eric after the incident:

“What happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific. Our entire team's hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery.

We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women's safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.”

Eric Alexander was the President of Uber’s Asia Pacific Business and happened to be in India during the tragic incident. Instead of taking responsibility, he chose to believe the rape incident was fabricated to sabotage the company by Ola, Uber’s competitor in India.

Eric illegally obtained medical data of the aforementioned Rape Survivor and shared the files with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and SVP Emil Michael who read these documents.

Travis and Emil were sold on the prospect, and chose to believe that the rape survivor’s story was a set-up. This report was distributed among Uber’s top executives.

Within hours of this revelation, Social Media outrage called for the firing of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick for being complicit in the corporate misbehavior of Uber’s top executives. The firing of Eric Alexander is just the tip of the iceberg, as Bobbie Wilson of Perkins Coie assures that there will be many more firings at Uber in the coming days.

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