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Uber Pays 4.4 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment Claims

Shortly after Uber made headlines releasing its data on sexual assaults occurring during U.S. rides last year, it has settled claims of discrimination and harassment alleged under former CEO Travis Kalanick’s leadership. Stemming from charges filed in 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found “reasonable cause to believe that Uber permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.” While the EEOC’s investigation was ongoing, Uber had hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct its own investigation. The company fired more than 20 employees and Kalanick stepped down from his position. He remains on the board.
The $4.4 million settlement obtained by the EEOC will be placed in a fund for all employees who experienced sexual harassment and/or retaliation after 2014; a claims administrator will be hired to disburse the money after female employees submit claims. Uber has also agreed to create a system to identify employees accused of sexual harassment, and managers who fail to respond to complaints of harassment. An outside consultant will be hired to assist Uber with updating its policies and the company will be monitored for three years by a former EEOC commissioner.
On December 5, Uber notified the public that it had 3,045 reported sexual assaults in 2018 just in the United States. 92% of the victims were riders. Reported conduct ranged from forced kissing of a nonsexual body part to attempted rape and rape. The most complained about conduct was non-consensual touching of a “sexual body part” such as the mouth or genitals. The New York Times reported that Uber chose to be transparent after growing pressure on the company to do so. Its chief legal officer stated that “[t]he numbers are jarring and hard to digest. What it says is that Uber is a reflection of the society it serves.” The company has instituted more safety measures including regularly checking drivers’ driving records and criminal history. It claims to have deactivated 40,000 drivers in the U.S. following these checks in the last year.