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Uber Retains Covington & Burling Partners to Conduct Internal Review
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Summary: Uber wasted no time in finding a team to conduct the internal review after allegations of sexual harassment have landed the tech company under less than savory publicity once again.

It was Susan Fowler’s first day on the job with Uber Technologies Inc. and she was already experiencing sexual harassment. Over a year since the unwanted treatment happened, Fowler wrote about it on her personal blog, quickly gaining public attention. The attention forced Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to call for an investigation into the allegations.


Uber hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. to lead an internal review. The Covington & Burling partner will work with fellow partner Tammy Albarran to “conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Flower, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly,” said Kalanick.

The review will examine the responsibilities of human resources and the in-house legal department to handle sexual harassment claims. A review panel including chief human resources officer Liane Hornsey, associate general counsel Angela Padilla, and board member Arianna Huffington will help with the investigation.

Fowler was a reliability engineer, working in an industry filled with men. She explained on her blog that her manager messaged her on her first day of work stating that he was in an open relationship and currently looking for new sexual partners.  She wrote, “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.”

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HR did nothing but claim to give him a “first offense” warning. Fowler transferred to another Uber team where she met other female engineers that had identical stories to hers.  She explained, “It was such a blatant lie that there was really nothing I could do. There was nothing any of us could do. We all gave up on Uber HR and our managers after that.”

The allegations that Fowler released are nothing new to the Silicon Valley. A former Apple Inc. in-house attorney sued the company for age and gender discrimination. Many of the allegations involve the failure of the companies to reprimand harassers and retaliation against those that file accusations of harassment and discrimination. A survey of Silicon Valley women conducted last year found that 60 percent of respondents had experienced unwanted sexual advances at work.

Do you think there is a problem with sexual harassment in the workplace? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about just a few of the other sexual harassment lawsuits, read these articles:




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