Uber has fired more than 20 employees as part of its internal
investigation into sexual harassment and other bad behavior at
the company, a source with knowledge of the matter told Business
The ride-hailing company announced the news internally to its
12,000 employees on Tuesday, the latest development in a series
of scandals and controversies that have rocked the world’s most
valuable private tech company.
The investigation by the outside law firm Perkins Coie looked
into 215 claims of inappropriate workplace incidents, including
everything from bullying to sexual harassment, according to the
source. Uber took no action in 100 instances. There are still
cases under investigation. News of the terminations
was first reported by Bloomberg.
The Perkins Coie investigation lays the groundwork for the
investigation being conducted for Uber by Eric Holder, the former
US attorney general. Holder has provided recommendations, based
on the Perkins Coie findings, to Uber’s board, though it’s not
yet clear what those are. The company plans to release that
information to its employees next week at an all-hands meeting.
Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, launched an internal investigation
in February after a former employee, Susan Fowler, said in a
personal blog post that she was sexually harassed and
experienced gender bias during her time at the company. The
company has been interviewing its employees internally, as well
as having Perkins Coie and Holder investigate the company’s
Warnings and training
Seven Uber employees have received written warnings about their
behavior, and 30 employees will receive special training,
according to the person with knowledge of the matter. The
majority of the complaints came from the San Francisco
headquarters, although they received claims for employees all
over the world, this person said.
The terminations represent the largest fallout to date as Uber
moves to get its house in order and move beyond a months-long
string of crises. Earlier this year, Uber asked its senior vice
president of engineering to resign after the company learned that
he failed to disclose sexual-harassment allegations that were
made against him at his previous job. Amit Singhal, the former
Uber engineer, has denied the allegations. Another high-ranking
executive, Ed Baker, abruptly
left the company in March under unclear circumstances.
Uber is also embroiled in a trade-theft lawsuit with Waymo, the
Google self-driving car spin-off, which has accused Uber of using
stolen technology. Last month,
Uber fired Anthony Levandowski, the star self-driving-car
engineer who once worked for Google and is at the heart of the
case. And the company’s image has been further tarnished by a
string of negative reports about its business practices, such as
its use of a special tool designed to help Uber evade regulators.
But the sexual-harassment allegations have caused some of the
largest damage inside and outside the company. And it’s a problem
Uber has been slow to recognize.
In late May, Uber’s human-resources chief in an interview had
said sexual harassment wasn’t a problem for the company.
“(Fowler’s) blog shocked me,” Liane Hornsey,
Uber’s HR head, told USA Today. “But, what did surprise me,
was when I did the listening sessions, this didn’t come up as an
issue. It wasn’t one of our big themes. Other things came up that
are in that area, that our values are masculine and a little
aggressive, but the harassment issue, I just didn’t find that at