Uber culls 20 of its staff after 215 claims of sexual harassment

7 Jun 2017

Uber sign. Image: Linda Parton/Shutterstock

In response to months of scandal relating to claims of sexual harassment, Uber has fired 20 employees at the centre of complaints.

2017 has been a bad year for Uber’s public image, with near-weekly news reports on the company’s litigation and regulation troubles. It has also struggled to stamp out and prevent instances of sexual harassment.

Much of the latter stemmed from a blog post published by former Uber employee Susan Fowler, who described being sexually harassed by a senior manager only to be told by the company’s HR department that he was a “high performer” and should be left alone.

In February of this year, Uber and its CEO, Travis Kalanick, promised to fire any staff found to be engaging in such activity. Now that promise is coming to fruition.

According to Bloomberg, a total of 20 staff members have been fired by the company following a major internal investigation of 215 claims made to HR by staff.

Those fired are believed to be employed across the spectrum, from regular employees to senior executives, but no names have been given.

Of the 215 claims, 100 are no longer going to be investigated. A further 57 are still being analysed by the law firm brought in by Uber, Perkins Coie LLP.

In addition to the above, a separate investigation by former US attorney general Eric Holder is under way.

Recent spate of firings

Though unconnected with the claims of sexual harassment, it is less than a week since Uber made the decision to fire its top autonomous vehicle engineer, Anthony Levandowski.

The decision was made after Levandowski stalled in handing over documents in the case brought against Uber by Google’s Waymo, which claims the engineer stole technology from it.

Levandowski, a former Google engineer, left the tech giant to set up his own autonomous trucking company, Otto, which was snapped up by Uber for $680m in 2016.

Uber sign. Image: Linda Parton/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic