Uber has found itself in the middle of yet another controversy. A former employee of the ride-sharing service accused the company of hosting a work environment filled with sexism and sexual harassment in a blog post, and now the company says it will investigate her claims. The former employee alleges that her supervisor made sexual advances on her, and human resources did not act on any of the complaints she lodged.
Uber accused of hostile work environment
Susan J. Fowler was a site reliability engineer at Uber, and in her blog post, she said the department she worked in ignored all the evidence and complaints raised by female employees. She also alleges that it was rare for the company to take action against any of the employees who were reported. She claims her supervisors made sexual advances on her, harassed her and threatened her.
The engineer also accused the HR department of incompetence, stating that they refused to take action on evidence showing that a male employee was sexually harassing her. She presented photos of chat messages and was told that because it was his first offense, they would only give him a warning and “a stern talking-to.” Other management labeled him “a high performer” and said they didn’t want to punish him for what was probably an “innocent mistake,” said Fowler.
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She was told to find another team and never interact with him again or stay on the team and realize that he would probably give her a bad performance review and they couldn’t do anything about it.
Fowler apparently wasn’t the only woman to experience such treatment from supervisors and HR, as she claims that her team started with 25% of its engineers being women, but a year later, only 6% of them were women.
Uber CEO says they will investigate
In a statement, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said they will investigate Fowler’s claims, emphasizing that she described “abhorrent” behavior that is “against Uber stands for and believes in.” 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.
“We seek to make Uber a just workplace 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,” he said.
The ride-sharing service has faced problems with the treatment of women in the past. A former Uber driver launched a women-only ride-sharing service called Chariot for Women. The service guarantees women the safest ride by running stringent background checks on drivers and carefully matching women with drivers.