Uber Technologies fired at least 20 employees based on complaints of sexual harassment, the ride-hailing company said on Tuesday, reported news agency Reuters. The steps were taken based on a report submitted to the company by law firm Perkins Coie, which was hired to look into 215 complaints of harassment, discrimination and bullying among others — some cases dating back to 2012. The move comes in the wake of a slew of executive departures at Uber, including its president, heads of finance and product and many high-level engineers.
Amid the crackdown, the app-based firm told employees it would improve management training — most Uber managers are first-time bosses — expand its employee relations department, offer a confidential helpline for employees to report concerns, and ensure all complaints are recorded and tracked.
Of the 215 complaints received, 54 were related to discrimination, 47 to sexual harassment, 45 to unprofessional behaviour, 33 to bullying and 36 had to do with other types of claims, the company said, adding that most were registered at its San Francisco headquarters. Based on Perkins Coie’s report, action has been initiated in 58 cases, and further investigations are underway.
Apart from the law firm, a broader investigation is underway into company culture and practices by former US Attorney General Eric Holder.
Uber has been receiving a lot of negative press this year due to series of events, including the viral blogpost written by former engineer Susan Fowler in February, in which she claimed the firm did not take action against her manager whom she filed sexual harassment against. In March, co-founder Travis Kalanick was taped having a heated exchange with a driver, which forced him to later apologise for his outburst. Further, Uber was caught using technology to avoid regular crackdowns, and is facing a lawsuit from Alphabet Inc’s subsidiary, Waymo, which alleges trade secret theft.
(With inputs from Reuters)