Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Sunday said the company will open an “urgent investigation” after a former engineer wrote a lengthy blog post describing systemic sexual harassment at the San Francisco ride-hailing service, which she called “an organization in complete, unrelenting chaos.”
In a posting heavily shared on Twitter, the engineer, Susan Fowler, recounts being openly propositioned for sex by her manager during her first day on his team.
The manager, she said, was never punished because superiors rated him a “high performer,” telling her they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for a first offense. They told her it was “probably just an innocent mistake on his part.”
But later conversations with female co-workers, she said, revealed that they had reported the same manager and had also been told it was his “first offense.” Complaints about other supervisors, she said, were similarly ignored.
“We all gave up on Uber (Human Resources) and our managers after that,” she writes.
Fowler also recounts being passed over for promotions and professional development because of her complaint. In one instance, she became ineligible for an Uber-sponsored Stanford University computer science graduate program after supervisors mysteriously lowered her job performance scores.
Eventually the supervisor left the company she suggests he was fired, but says a “game-of-thrones political war” raged within the ranks of upper management, resulting in abandoned projects, shifting priorities, low productivity and the constant threat of new projects with impossible deadlines.
Fowler’s account could further damage the public image of Uber, a popular service that has already incurred the wrath of anti-Trump protesters who were angered last month when it lowered prices for rides from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport during a taxi drivers’ boycott.
The taxi drivers were using the action to voice their opposition to President Trump’s travel ban.
The move as well as Trump’s December announcement that Kalanick was joining his economic advisory council prompted many users to delete Uber’s app from their smartphones. Kalanick earlier this month said he was leaving the council.