Uber, the ride sharing tech giant has been in hot water in 2017. Reaching national attention for their mishandling of ride requests to airports following Trumps Muslim ban, which many taxi companies boycotted in opposition to the Trump regime, the San Francisco based firm has recently received negative attention after a slew of scandals emerged which highlighted the company’s history of sexism and sexual harassment of its female employees.
Recently, Uber CEO of ride sharing, Jeff Jones, announced his decision to leave the company after a string of scandals highlighted the companies grave mishandling of employees sexual harassment claims. Jones expressed concerns that the beliefs and approach to leadership which have guided his career were inconsistent with what he had saw from Uber. This came on the heels of a blog posted by Susan Fowler, a former site reliability engineer (SRE) who exposed Ubers disgusting mishandling of claims of sexual harassment by many of their female employees. These employees have thoroughly documented acts of sexual harassment by upper management, which they presented to Uber’s HR department to no avail.
On February 19, 2017, Fowler posted “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” detailing her horrible treatment. Within a few weeks of training she received thinly veiled requests for sex from her managers over the company’s messanging. The manager even stated he was in an open relationship and, while his girlfriend wasn’t having any problems finding partners, he was having a hard time finding women to sleep with. This manager even remarked that he “was trying to stay out of trouble because he was looking for women to sleep with at work, but he couldn’t help himself.” After reporting these comments to HR, she was shocked to find the company protecting their sleezy manager. Uber had stated he was high performer, and since this was his first offense they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him more than a stern talking to. They presented Fowler with a Hobson’s choice, either transfer to a lesser department, with which she had no experience or expertise, or remain at her department, knowing that her manager would give her a bad performance review. Fowler decided to stay at her current position and continue to kick ass while she was there. The situation didn’t get any better. Later, she learned from other female employees that there have been multiple reports to HR about this manager, and HR had told each one of the women who reported him that it was his first offense.
This is a clear violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Fowler faced sexual harassment by a manager who created a hostile work environment by making thinly veiled sexual requests. The company will be held responsible for his actions of the because when it gave her a choice of either transferring or receiving a bad performance review, Uber participated in quid pro quo sexual harassment. The company was clearly aware that their actions may have been an illegal because it notified Fowler that a negative performance review wouldn’t be retaliation because she was given a choice; they are wrong. If the choice is to continue to suffer sexual harassment or be moved to a lesser position, that is a clearly an adverse employment action based on whether she accepted this clearly illegal behavior.
Uber is deservedly in hot water because of their culture of sexual harassment. They will face consequences, of not only public scrutiny, but their female employees may be entitled to monetary damages in the form of compensation. Uber may also face punitive damages for sweeping their most heinous crimes under the rug. The court may impose an injunction on the company, forcing them to retrain and properly handle their sexual harassment claims. An injunction ought to be designed to force them to stop protecting their unscrupulous managers and change their sexist culture. This could change the general sexist culture of silicon valley as a whole.
Our experienced sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, have years of experience handling complex sexual harassment claims. It’s often hard for a person to bring a claim against the people who sign their checks, however, without brave individuals standing against a powerful employer this type of discrimination will continue. Our sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, spend countless hours litigating claims against high powered companies to protect the rights of our clients and get them the money they deserve. If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, please give us a call, toll-free, at 877-469-5297 for a free consultation about your possible claim.