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By Eric Lieberman
A former engineer for Uber wrote a highly disturbing account of her time at the ride-sharing company, including accusations of sexual harassment and unfair treatment, after complaining about the alleged misconduct.
Susan J. Fowler joined Uber as a site reliability engineer in November of 2015 and left in December of 2016. She claims that her manager was consistently pressuring her to have sex with him, after he explained that his girlfriend was taking full advantage of their open relationship, while he was failing to do so.
“He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with,” Fowler writes on a personal blog post. “It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.”
Fowler describes how she thought since Uber was a “pretty good-sized company at that time,” leadership would handle the situation diligently and expediently. But quite the opposite allegedly occurred, with both the human resource department and upper management refusing to punish the manager besides issuing a warning for his “first offense.”
After talking to other female engineers at the tech company, Fowler heard their stories and learned that other employees were also engaging in inappropriate conduct, including the exact same manager she initially reported.
Fowler, and other female co-workers, requested several more meetings with HR to continue to insist that something be done about the claims of sexual harassment. She was told that the specific manager in question was only ever reported once all the other other women with whom they met didn’t have anything negative to say about him.
She alleges that HR was extremely dishonest about the manager’s sexual advances being the “first offense,” even after the situation was presented to the highest level of the company, because of what she heard from her fellow female engineers.
“It was such a blatant lie that there was really nothing I could do. There was nothing any of us could do,” Fowler continues. “We all gave up on Uber HR and our managers after that. Eventually he ‘left’ the company. I don’t know what he did that finally convinced them to fire him.” (RELATED: Uber Forced To Pay Advocacy Group $2.38 Million For Not Picking Up Blind People)
She goes on to say that the company’s handling of the sexual misconduct was only a part of the problem and that “there was a game-of-thrones political war raging within the ranks of upper management.” Fowler asserts that within the engineering wing of the corporation, managers were undermining their direct supervisors and outwardly competing for each other’s jobs.
“Projects were abandoned left and right … nobody knew what our organizational priorities would be one day to the next, and very little ever got done,” Fowlers writes. “We all lived under fear that our teams would be dissolved, there would be another re-org, and we’d have to start on yet another new project with an impossible deadline. It was an organization in complete, unrelenting chaos.”
Fowler said she tried to transfer to another department, but was told that she wasn’t allowed due to poor performance reviews.
“I kept pushing, until finally I was told that ‘performance problems aren’t always something that has to do with work, but sometimes can be about things outside of work or your personal life,’” she writes. Fowler says after she tried to transfer again during the next official opportunity, she was unable to do so because her once very positive reviews were changed. In her view, the personal analysis was changed due to her speaking up about work violations, namely sexual harassment. (RELATED: Key Hire Could Make Uber’s Flying Car Dream Come True)
Fowler points to an uncorroborated statistic, which supposedly epitomizes their treatment of women’s complaints.
“When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25% women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another eng[ineer] organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6%,” and then 3 percent on the final day of work, Fowler writes.
Uber has been hit with incredibly creepy accusations from former employees before.
A former security professional for Uber filed a lawsuit against his former employers in October, alleging the company tracks “high profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.” (RELATED: Uber Is Tracking Your Location Even After The Ride Is Over)
The ex-employee also accused the company of illegally deleting data to cover up these unsettling infractions, and firing him for raising issue with the company’s conduct.
Uber is launching an “urgent investigation” into the sexual harassment claims.
“What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in,” Kalanick said in a statement, according to the Guardian.
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