Last Sunday, a former Uber employee claimed that she was sexually harassed by a manager working with the online transportation network company. According to reports, Uber is now investigating the allegations, saying that what the ex-employee experienced was against everything that the company stands for.
Susan J. Fowler said that she was sexually harassed by her manager and that human resources ignored her claims. In a lengthy post on her private blog, the engineer said that the manager was trying to get her to have sex with him.
Fowler said that on her first day on the Uber team, her new manager sent her messages over company chat. The manager told her that he was in an open relationship, and while his girlfriend had an easy time finding partners, he wasn’t as lucky. The manager added that though he didn’t want to get into trouble at work, he couldn’t help himself because he was looking for women to have sex with.
“It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him,” said Fowler, “and it was clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of those chat messages and reported him to HR.”
Fowler thought that the situation would be handled appropriately once she reported the manager’s actions. However, she was told by the department and by upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment, they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything than “a warning and a stern talking-to” as this was only his first offense.
Moreover, upper management told Fowler that the manager “was a high performer” and that they didn’t feel right punishing him for “an innocent mistake.” Fowler was told that she could join another team and never have to interact with the manager again, or she could stay on and expect a poor performance review when review time came around.
Fowler chose the former, and soon after, she learned from other female engineers that they had stories similar to hers and that the same manager also had inappropriate interactions with them.
Fowler has since left Uber and is now working with Stripe, a payments processing start-up.
Hours after Fowler’s post, Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick issued a statement (via New York Times), saying that he had instructed the company’s recently hired chief of human resources, Liane Hornsey, to “conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations.”
“What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in,” said Kalanick in an emailed statement. “There can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber—and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is O.K. will be fired.”
For more, check out Jobs & Hire’s report on the woman who started a petition after she was sent home from work for not wearing high heels.