One of the plaintiffs also claims to have been the victim of sexual harassment
Uber has not had a über good year.
In its latest problem, three female engineers have sued the ridesharing platform in San Francisco’s Superior Court for discrimination. They claim Uber’s performance evaluation mechanism, among others, is unfair to women and underrepresented minorities; one woman also alleges a culture that fosters chauvinism—a charge that echoes claims made earlier this year which eventually forced then-chief executive Travis Kalanick out of the company.
Two of the three engineers, who are of Latino descent, have since left their positions with the Silicon Valley company, while another remains employed there as of early this week. The complaint had previously been filed this past summer by two of the women with the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency as precursor to the lawsuit. The claims were first reported by The Information, a tech trade website.
The engineers say that Uber had a “culture of preference for men” that meant women and underrepresented minorities received lower salaries and were frequently passed over for promotions in favor of white and Asian men. These groups were also allegedly given lower scores during performance review sessions. “In this system, female employees and employees of color are systematically undervalued compared to their male and white or Asian American peers,” the lawsuit says, according to the Reuters news agency.
One of the females suing Uber also claims she worked on a team where her male colleagues frequently disparaged her in sexual terms, claiming that “the only reason she was successful at the company was because she is ‘hot.’” She also alleges that they ranked their female counterparts according to their attractiveness. Uber didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
Two of the three women, Ingrid Avendaño and Roxana del Toro Lopez, previously worked on Uber’s reliability engineering team, where engineer-activist Susan Fowler was also employed. Fowler wrote a viral blog post about her experiences there in which she detailed sexual misconduct and inaction on the part of higher-ups when she complained. Her story has been sold to a movie production studio and triggered a review led by media maven Arianna Huffington and former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder.
These problems, coupled with reports that Uber deliberately ignored governmental regulations worldwide and tolerated the use of unsafe cars in Singapore, have shaved billions of dollars from Uber’s still-lofty valuation and could lead to the permanent loss of its license to operate in London.
The company has made moves to address some concerns. Earlier this year, Uber raised the salaries of those compensated at below median pay for their job. It also installed a new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, who comes with a record of corporate governance. An African American woman, former Apple marketing exec Bozoma Saint John, was also hired for a high-ranking chief brand officer job.
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