Uber Investigated for Sex Discrimination

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 20, 2018

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Equal Employment OpportunityAccording to the New York Times, federal officials are investigating allegations that Uber discriminated against women in hiring and pay.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which deals with workplace discrimination, allegedly began investigating Uber last August.

As its website notes, the EEOC

is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

The EEOC hasn’t actually filed a lawsuit against Uber, which it does only as a last resort.

Sex Discrimination

As the Times reports,

The investigation shows how difficult it has been for Uber to move past its tumultuous 2017. The company faced numerous accusations of workplace sex discrimination and harassment last year, as well as allegations of illegal behavior by its executives, such as spying on and stealing secrets from rivals. The scandals forced out Uber’s co-founder and chief executive, Travis Kalanick. His successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, has pledged to reform the company.

Racially Insensitive

Uber’s new COO, Barney Harford, also allegedly made racially insensitive comments, including comments about an ad that showed a mixed-race couple.

Harford, a sponsor of an internal group of female employees called Women of Uber, was also criticized for making comments that some felt were insensitive toward women.

As the Times reported,

Almost all of the employees who report directly to Mr. Harford are also men; multiple people have told him that he should consider more diverse candidates for leadership positions…

According to the Times,

Groups representing black and Hispanic employees sent Mr. Khosrowshahi a letter in recent weeks outlining the difficulties that minorities at Uber have had in the past year with promotions and raises…

Chief People Officer

Liane Hornsey, Uber’s former “Chief People Officer” (head of human resources) resigned in July after only 18 months in the position after an investigation about how she handled allegations of racial discrimination.

As Reuters reported, “an anonymous group that claims to be Uber employees of color” alleged that Hornsey

used discriminatory language and made derogatory comments about Uber Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Bernard Coleman, and had denigrated and threatened former Uber executive Bozoma Saint John, who left the company in June.

According to the Times, an investigation by the Gibson Dunn law firm substantiated some of the claims against Hornsey.

Another senior woman, Frances Frei — Uber’s former senior vice president of leadership and strategy — also left the company recently.

Settlement

In March, Uber agreed to pay $10 million to settle a proposed class-action lawsuit that alleged the company has discriminated against more than 400 women and minorities.

An Uber spokeswoman said that the company had increased diversity training, introduced a new performance-review process, and made new salary rules based on the employment market, in an efforts to respond to employee concerns.

According to TechCrunch, from March of 2017 to April of 2018, Uber increased the number of women in its workplace from 36.1% to 38%.

The EEOC has also investigated sex-based pay discrepancies at other tech companies, including Google.

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