UPDATED 23:48 EDT / JUNE 06 2017


Uber fires 20 employees following sexual harassment investigation

Uber Technologies Inc.’s investigation into claims of sexual harassment and discrimination is not yet over, but one thing was certain Tuesday: Twenty of its staff have just been let go as a result of the probe.

A summary of the investigation, a consequence of allegations made by female staff that a pervasive and toxic “bro culture” existed in the Uber offices, will be made public soon. It is not yet known who was fired, but according to a source close to the company, some were senior executives.

Another executive who wasn’t part of the initial group let go was also fired following revelations about his handling of medical records of a customer who was a rape victim during a ride in India in 2014, according to a story in Recode Wednesday. Eric Alexander, president of Uber’s Asia-Pacific business, showed the records to Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick and Senior Vice President Emil Michael, all of whom raised questions about the case, the story said, citing multiple sources.

Last week Uber employees had talked of an “intimidating” experience relating to mandatory staff interviews undertaken by two law firms. The tense environment, it was reported, compelled some of Uber’s staff to hire their own attorneys.

One of the firms, Perkins Coie LLP, is still in the process of reviewing 215 cases, 100 of which have led to no action being taken with 57 still open. The cases include allegations such as sexual harassment, bullying, retaliation and bias. Uber had also hired Covington & Burling LLP for a separate investigation, and that report will be made available to the public next week. This will result in further actions being taken against employees, according to the source.

Human resources chief Liane Hornsey also led a series of “listening sessions” in which complaints could be heard regarding the bad behavior Uber’s workplace has become tainted with. On top of the 20 people fired, seven staff have been given written warnings and 31 people have been asked to undergo counseling or training.

Perkins Coie was hired soon after Susan Fowler Rigetti’s lurid blog post became public news. She described her Uber experience as a corporate nightmare, detailing instances of sexism, harassment and poor management.

Bobbie Wilson, who led the investigation, said in an interview with Recode, “We were given unfettered access to current and former employee and any documentation.” According to Wilson, more than 600,000 internal documents were combed through.

Wilson noted that not all issues were resolved between parties, adding, “One of the reasons you bring in an outside investigator, no question, is that you want people to have faith in the process and, frankly, they are often more comfortable about being frank with us.”

Perhaps the outcome will mean employees have more faith in the process, one that might see some further improvement thanks to Uber’s two newly recruited female execs: the well-respected management guru, Frances Frei, as senior vice present for leadership and strategy, and former Apple Inc. exec Bozoma Saint John as chief brand officer.

Image: 5chw4r7z via Flickr

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