Uber CEO’s future remains uncertain after recommended leave of absence

12 Jun 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Image: aradaphotography/Shutterstock

US attorney general Eric Holder has advised Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to take a leave of absence, but the company board remains silent.

Uber’s issues behind the scenes have been well documented in the past few months. The most recent scandal came last week, with the revelation that a former senior executive kept and showed the medical records of an Uber passenger raped by her driver in India three years ago.

Now, after the conclusion of an independent report compiled by former US attorney general Eric Holder, the Uber board of directors is deciding the fate of the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, with Holder recommending a leave of absence.

Future Human

According to The Guardian, a spokesperson for Uber said that the company was going to adopt all of Holder’s recommendations – to be released to employees today (12 June) – but has remained tight-lipped on Kalanick’s future.

Last March, the CEO was criticised for a recorded interaction with an Uber driver that got heated.

After the video was released online, Kalanick apologised, saying that he was deeply ashamed, admitting that he needs help when it comes to leadership.

“It’s clear this video is a reflection of me – and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up,” he said at the time.

A year to forget

The recommendations follow an investigation undertaken by Holder and his legal partner, Tammy Albarrán – of the law firm Covington & Burling LLP – who were asked by Uber to investigate claims of sexual harassment in the company.

The resulting action saw 20 staff members – including senior executives and other staff – fired from the company.

In total, 215 claims of harassment were investigated by the legal firm Perkins Coie LLP and, while 100 cases have now been dropped, a further 57 are still under investigation.

The event that sparked the investigation into the company occurred back in February when former Uber engineer Susan Fowler claimed that she was harassed by her boss on a number of occasions.

After reporting these incidents to HR, she was allegedly told that he was a “high performer” and should be left alone.

Meanwhile, other problems in the company stem from its ongoing legal dispute with Google’s Waymo over allegations made against Uber that it stole autonomous driving technology.

Former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski is being accused by his former employer of taking the technology with him to set up his own company, Otto, which was subsequently bought by Uber for $680m last year.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Image: aradaphotography/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic