Uber CEO orders ‘urgent’ investigation into sexual harassment claims

Feb. 19 (UPI) — The chief executive officer of ride-sharing company Uber on Sunday ordered an immediate investigation into charges of institutional sexual harassment at the company made in a blog post by a former employee.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick tweeted Sunday, hours after former engineer Susan Fowler’s blog post spread online, that he was launching an “urgent investigation” into charges she levied that she was denied transfers and job opportunities because of sexism among managers.

Fowler alleges that she was sexually harassed by a supervisor almost immediately after she started at the company, and was ignored by human resources, and over the course of a year was threatened and sabotaged by management because she complained about the harassment.

Other women at the company have experienced the same thing, Fowler wrote in the post, which she says is why the number of women working at the company dwindled progressively during her 12 months there.

“When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25 percent women,” Fowler wrote in the blog post on her website. “By the time I was trying to transfer to another eng organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6 percent. Women were transferring out of the organization, and those who couldn’t transfer were quitting or preparing to quit. There were two major reasons for this: there was the organizational chaos, and there was also the sexism within the organization.”

Within a few weeks of training, Fowler alleges her boss propositioned her in a messaging application, telling her he was in an open marriage and looking for a new partner. When Fowler told human resources, bringing them screenshots of the conversation, she said she was told nothing could be done about it, and that it was possible she’d have to deal with some type of backlash for having reported him.

Fowler later attempted to transfer to a different department — based on her performance reviews, she should have been eligible — but her managers changed her reviews so she could not transfer, because they were trying to keep women on their teams, she said.

In order to keep her on the team, Fowler said her bosses documented nonexistent production problems and other issues, which they claimed would not affect her even as she was missing opportunities because of the fake reviews.

Uber board member Arianna Huffington said on Twitter that an independent investigation into Fowler’s allegations about herself, as well as the institutional issues she says Uber has, is “starting now,” based on a conversation she’d already had with Kalanick.

“What [Fowler] describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in,” Kalanick said on Twitter. “Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”

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