A sign marks a pickup point for the Uber car service at LaGuardia Airport in New York. (Seth Wenig / AP)
Uber has fired 20 employees after a company investigation into sexual harassment claims, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.
The law firm Perkins Coie, which was hired to assist former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder’s firm Covington & Burling in its investigation of Uber’s workplace practices, told Uber’s more than 12,000 employees Tuesday that it looked into 215 complaints and took no action in 100 instances, the person said.
Employees were told that those fired were terminated for a range of reasons, including sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. Uber did not respond to a request for comment.
Uber hired Holder in February to lead an investigation into a former employee’s claims that the company failed to discipline a manager who mistreated female employees, and that the company had ignored complaints of sexual harassment.
The employee, Susan Fowler Rigetti — an Uber software engineer from November 2015 to December 2016 — said in a lengthy blog post on her personal website that a manager had propositioned her and, despite saving copies of their correspondence, human resources failed to discipline him.
“I was told by both HR and upper manage 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,” Rigetti said.
Rigetti’s blog post also alleged that Uber’s human resource department systemically covered up sexual harassment complaints. She said during her time at Uber she spoke with many female employees who felt mistreated by some men at the company, and that “some of the women even had stories about reporting the exact same manager I had reported, and had reported inappropriate interactions with him long before I had even joined the company.”
“It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being his ‘first offense,’” Rigetti said.
Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, in February condemned the behavior Rigetti described, saying that it was “abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in.”
In a memo to employees, he said he would bring on Holder to conduct an independent investigation into the incidents detailed in the blog post. Uber board member Arianna Huffington also flew to San Francisco in the days following the publication of Rigetti’s blog post to oversee the investigation as the company went into damage control.
“I view it as my responsibility to hold the leadership team’s feet to the fire on this issue,” Huffington said in a statement.