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Ex-Uber engineer alleges sexual harassment, CEO reacts by promising investigation

Cyrus Farivar

Susan Fowler: During my first week, my manager wanted to sleep with me.

After a former Uber engineer's blog post went viral over the weekend, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick vowed on Twitter that his company will begin an “urgent investigation” into newly public allegations of sexual harassment.
Kalanick's comments came Sunday evening, hours after Susan J. Fowler, who had been a site reliability engineer, wrote on her blog that she experienced what amounted to institutional sexism within the company. The experience ultimately drove Fowler to quit.
Fowler, who worked at Uber from November 2015 until December 2016, opened her piece with a sordid episode during her first few weeks of the company:
On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't. 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. 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.
After this encounter, Fowler said that Uber’s human resources department did little, if anything, about this manager despite her report. According to the post, Fowler was told that because this manager was a good worker, “they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.” Fowler wrote that she found out later that this man, who eventually left the company, made similar inappropriate overtures to other female colleagues as well.
In the past, Uber has been accused of other instances of misogynistic behavior. Back in October 2014, the company ran ads in France with scantily clad women that prompted public rebuke in some corners. That same year, Kalanick was profiled in GQ (which, like Ars Technica, is a Conde Nast property) and caused ire with a joke involving the term "Boob-er." Not long after, an Uber executive told reporters that he thought it would make sense for the company to hire opposition researchers to look into the personal lives of journalists to "give the media a taste of its own medicine," according to a report from BuzzFeed News.
Late last year, the company settled a lawsuit filed by two women who said they were sexually assaulted by their Uber drivers.
Ex-Uber engineer alleges sexual harassment, CEO reacts by promising investigation Reviewed by Chidinma C Amadi on 2:32 PM Rating: 5

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