Urgent Uber investigation after sexual harassment claims

In her harassment charge, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti accused a manager of making advances on her, but the human resources department dismissed her. She was informed that upper management did not feel comfortable punishing the man for a first offense, and even told her that it was "probably just an innocent mistake on his part".

After choosing to join another team, Fowler said she began to hear from other female employees who had stories similar to her own, and some of them involving the same manager, She said she pushed against gender discrimination at the company, but she was threatened with firing.

Kalanick called Fowler's allegations "abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in", in a statement sent to Reuters. "Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired", he said about the post.

Fowler claims that on her first official day rotating on a team at Uber, her manager sent her inappropriate messages, which she immediately reported to HR but was told that it was the manager's first offense and he would get a "stern talking-to". There were two major reasons for this: there was the organizational chaos, and there was also the sexism within the organization.

It's not clear who Fowler's manager was, and she does not list him by name.

Fowler also described an opaque and unfair performance review process and a continued pattern of sexist behavior within the company, including one complaint about how female workers were denied free company leather jackets that male employees got "because there were not enough women in the organization to justify placing an order".

Kalanick responded to Fowler's account on Twitter, vowing to fully review the accusations and deal with them appropriately. Later, she said other women came forward about the same manager and were similarly ignored.

Even though Fowler's reports were never taken seriously, she continued to send her claims to HR whenever something insane happened... just to have a running log. Fowler said she notified HR and claimed she was later told by a superior that she was on "very thin ice" for going to HR.

How neutral Uber's report can be has been questioned given that board member Arianna Huffington, its HR chief and general counsel, will be working on it. Uber revealed just 15% of its technical staff are women.

The allegations come as the San Francisco-based ride-hailing service is still containing fallout over Kalanick's former role as an adviser to President Donald Trump and the company's response to the executive order banning travel by citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

  • Zachary Reyes