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After getting kicked out of Taiwan earlier this month, Uber finds itself in more trouble. A former engineer at the company has revealed on her blog how she was sexually harassed by her manager, and has provided details on the highly inappropriate and unprofessional way in which the HR department handled the case.
Sexism is a well-documented problem in Silicon Valley, and Susan Fowler who worked for Uber from November 2015 to December 2016, is determined to raise attention on the issue with her story.
Fowler said a manager sent her inappropriate messages on her first day rotating to the department. The manager told her he was in an open relationship, and that his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t.
“It was clear that [my new manager] 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,” she wrote.
Management turned a deaf ear to her complaints, saying that it was the manager’s first offense. They added that he was a high flyer, so they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was “probably just an innocent mistake on his part”.
Instead, HR gave her two options – move to another department so she no longer had to interact with the manager, or stay on the team knowing that the manager would most likely give her a poor performance review, something they could do nothing about.
Fowler chose to move to another team and over the next few months, she got to meet more female engineers in the company and heard their stories. She found out that many colleagues had been abused in similar ways, and several women were harassed by the same manager who harassed her.
It clearly wasn’t his first offence, despite what the HR department had told Fowler. According to Fowler, the department continued to lie to cover up for the manager. Within a few months, the manager was reported once again for inappropriate behaviour, and those who reported him were told it was still his “first offense”.
During her stint at Uber, Fowler continued to report cases of sexism to HR, only to be threatened by the manager that she would be fired if she didn’t stop.
In response to to Fowler’s online outburst, CEO Travis Kalanick announced an “urgent investigation” on Twitter.
2/ I’ve instructed our CHRO Liane to conduct an urgent investigation. There can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber.
— travis kalanick (@travisk) February 20, 2017