A former engineer for the ride-sharing technology service Uber wrote a scathing blog detailing numerous allegations of sexual harassment, sexism and gender discrimination at the California-based firm.
Now, the company is launching an “urgent investigation” into her claims, which included allegations that her complaints to management were repeatedly dismissed. She further asserted that a repeat offending sexual harasser was protected by higher-ups with the organization and she was threatened with termination for having the gall to raise concerns in the first place. The allegations come amid longstanding complaints that women are vastly underrepresented in Silicon Valley tech jobs.
The CEO of the company now says the company will conduct an internal investigation in response to the blog post, written by an employee who was a former software programmer. She was repeatedly propositioned by her manager, she alleges, and the reports she made to the company’s human resources division were ignored.
In her blog, she wrote “it was clear” her boss was attempting to goad her into a sexual relationship, something she said was so obviously out-of-line, she immediately snapped screenshots of his messages and forwarded them to the human resources division. However, senior managers responded by informing her that her boss was someone they considered to be a “high performer,” and they didn’t want to penalize him for what they characterized as an, “innocent mistake.”
These allegations are the latest in what has been a string of allegations made by female employees who report they’ve been tossed to the wayside in the male-dominated atmosphere of Silicon Valley – particularly in the engineering field. You may recall two years ago the high profile gender discrimination lawsuit filed by Ellen Pao against Kleiner Perkins Caufiled and Byers. There was also the recent case of a former female engineer at Twitter who reported she was forced to resign after lodging a complaint that men were favored in senior positions in her department.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick responded to these newest allegations in a tweet asserting that what she described is “abhorrent” and defies Uber’s core principles. He went on to say this type of behavior will not be tolerated, and anyone who behaves in the manner she described will be fired. He further assigned his recently-hired head of human resources to launch an inquiry into the allegations.
The engineer had alleged in her blog that her experience was indicative of a larger culture issue at the company, wherein similar sexual harassment complaints were never addressed and opportunities for female advancement were systematically blocked.
Interactions with her boss, though, were especially problematic. She explained how over company chat, her male supervisor told her he was trying to avoid workplace trouble, but was looking for women there with whom to have sex. He told her he was in an open relationship, but was struggling to find new sexual partners. The engineer said that when she reported all this, she was told she had two options: Stay in her current position with her current boss (with the understanding her manager would likely give her a bad performance review for reporting him to HR), or find a new team.
She later learned other women had complained about the same manager – in some cases repeatedly – and each was told it was the manager’s “first offense.”
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.
Uber launches ‘urgent investigation’ into sexual harassment claims, Feb. 19, 2017, By Sam Levin, The Guardian
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