Uber CEO Travis Kalanick orders 'urgent investigation' into 'abhorrent' sexual harassment claims

Posted February 23, 2017

On her first day working on her new team at Uber, Rigetti says, her manager sent her a string of messages propositioning her on the company chat. 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". HR erroneously insisted that the potential negative review wouldn't be considered retaliation because she was warned in advance.

After keeping extensive records of sexist incidents and filing numerous reports with the company's HR department, Fowler claims she was summoned to a meeting.

"On my last day at Uber, I calculated the percentage of women who were still [there]".

In a Twitter post on Sunday, Arianna Huffington, the business mogul and a board member at Uber, solicited feedback from employees and said she would work with Hornsey to support the investigation.

It was the first instance of what she described as "one very, very unusual year at Uber" in a blog post on Sunday. Fowler, who left the company in January to work for Stripe, said she and other women repeatedly reported incidents to human resources and were told there was little the company could do.

After the post went viral, Kalanick tweeted on Sunday that this behavior was "abhorrent and against everything we believe in" and pledged that Uber employees who behave this way would be fired. Later, when she put in for a transfer, it was blocked because of "performance problems" that were nowhere in her performance reviews.

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Kalanick said he has instructed Liane Hornsey, the company's recently hired chief of human resources, "to conduct an urgent investigation".

However, the HR department reportedly told her that the manager was a "high performer" and this was his first offense, so upper management didn't "feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part", she wrote. She claims he is now out of the company.

Aside from accusations of blatant sexual harassment from her manager, who propositioned her over messenger, there's a odd alleged incident when the company purchased leather jackets for their male employees only and continuous clashes with HR.

The experience ultimately drove Fowler to quit. He said this is comparable with other Silicon Valley firms, though he pledged "to publish a broader diversity report for the company in the coming months". BuzzFeed has also claimed that the company has significantly under-reported the number of sexual assaults that take place in their drivers' cars.

Fowler signed up with Uber in 2015 as a site reliability engineer. There were two major reasons for this: there was the organizational chaos, and there was also the sexism within the organization.