Massive ride-sharing company Uber seemed to be impervious to all the controversy it had faced in the past year. Weathering the storm of consumer complaints of being raped by drivers, scrutiny regarding a sudden surge in ride prices, and a driver protest sparked by CEO Travis Kalanick's association with Trump advisory board, the company has managed to remain perpetually unaffected by these scandals. But when the public caught wind of the eye-opening disclosure of Uber workplace culture through the experiences of former software engineer, Susan Fowler, many started to see cracks in Uber's seemingly impenetrable force.
In her personal online blog, Fowler descriptively expounded on her traumatizing year as an engineer for the company. Within her first few days on the job as a site reliability engineer, she claims her boss sent her several messages soliciting her for sex. After taking a screenshot of said messages, she immediately sent them to human resources in hopes that they would handle the situation appropriately. Her meeting with HR did not go as planned, to say the least.
“I was told by HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man's first offense and that they wouldn't feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to,” Fowler wrote. Upper management told me that he ‘was a high performer' and they wouldn't feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.”
She was then encouraged to make one of two lousy alternatives: go find another team to avoid having interactions with him, or stay on the team and risk the chance of receiving a poor performance review from her boss.
The blog that was just published about a month ago made national headlines and prompted similar stories from other mistreated women employees (some who had been harassed by the exact same man). It turns out that Fowler's experience was not an isolated incident, these incidents were just being swept under the rug. Uber's cultural practices have undoubtedly been embedded in misogyny.
Media outlets, celebrities, and advocacy groups have spoken out against the company, causing it to see an enormous public wave of backlash it's never seen before. Uber CEO Kalanick released a statement following Fowler's claims.
“There can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber - and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired,” he proclaimed.
But questions have been posed as to why HR reacted in such a way in the first place, and when actions will ultimately be taken against the employees in these women's complaints. Despite Kalanick's apology and promises of an "urgent investigation," many people stand firm on deleting company accounts until they see the appropriate actions established and enforced. Until then, #DeleteUber is still trending.
If you have been harassed in the workplace, you do not have to stay silent. An attorney who is dedicated to fighting for your right to a peaceful work environment is willing to advocate for you. Contact Benassi & Benassi today to get the justice you rightfully deserve.