The ride-share company Uber is in some – pardon the pun – Uber trouble. Over 20 people were fired after an investigation into harassment claims at the company. Perkins Coie, LLP, the law firm investigating the claims, continues to review about 215 Human Resources claims. An undisclosed number of employees have been fired, 31 employees are in training or counseling, and 7 received written warnings from Uber. Uber has also commissioned a separate investigation, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Uber has had its share of controversy over the last year. In a blog post titled, “Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber, former employee Susan Fowler blogged about widespread sexual harassment, and about how her complaints to HR were ignored. A video surfaced of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick yelling at an Uber driver. Kalanick has since taken steps to build leadership in the company and hired a search firm to find a chief operating officer. Uber brought in two outside senior executives, both women, to work specifically on leadership and strategy within the company. In addition, Kalanick asked for the resignation of the head of software engineering, Amit Singhal, after a sexual harassment claim at his previous employer came to light. Singhal denied the claims.
This controversy is part of the larger issue of Silicon Valley’s “male dominated culture” Twitter, Google, and other Silicon Valley giants have been accused of poor treatment of women in the workplace. There have been multiple allegations, including those of Ms. Fowler, of male managers propositioning their female co-workers without repercussion. In a very public lawsuit, Ellen Pao sued Kleiner Perkins (a venture capital firm) for gender-discrimination. Ms. Pao lost in court, but the lawsuit prompted a lot of discussion about gender diversity in Silicon Valley. Investigation continues, but Uber certainly has a long road ahead.