In 2014, then-CEO Travis Kalanick, then-SVP of Business Emil Michael, and others visited a “karaoke” bar in Seoul, Korea which was staffed by “escorts.” Each woman was labeled with a number so customers could pick them out.
Emil Michael later attempted to cover up the visit.
Shervin Pishevar, one of the earliest investors in Uber, resigned from his investment firm (and hence ended his affiliation with Uber) in the face of allegations of sexual misconduct. He denied the allegations.
In November 2017, Bloomberg reported that five women had accused Pishevar of using his position to make unwanted sexual advances.
A former Uber engineer sued the company, alleging that its “stack ranking” system of evaluating employees had an unfair and disproportionate impact on women.
Bloomberg reported on research about stack ranking:
Academic researchers have found that performance rating systems like stack rankings play to managers’ unconscious — and conscious — biases. Reviewing a decade of performance reviews at a “large professional services firm,” Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, a senior research fellow at Harvard Law School, found that women were 1.4 times more likely than men to receive critical feedback in highly subjective categories.
For example, in one pair of reviews a female employee was described as having “analysis paralysis.” A man with the same behavior was praised for his careful thoughtfulness. “There is a lot of bias in the system, more than in the people,” Cecchi-Dimeglio said.
Microsoft faced similar litigation in 2015, and Goldman Sachs in 2010. Both those companies ended the practice, as did Uber before the filing of this lawsuit.
Litigation docket including complaint.
An October 2017 lawsuit alleged that Uber has discriminated against women and certain minority employees, leading them to receive reduced earnings, promotions, and benefits (including stock options and bonuses). The lawsuit argues: “In this system, female employees and employees of color are systematically undervalued compared to their male and white or Asian American peers.”
A female driver in the UK claimed gender discrimination in that Uber purportedly failed to provide sufficient security to female drivers. She complained that she had to accept a passenger’s request without knowing the destination in advance, and had no option to cancel requests to remote or unsafe destinations. She also complained that Uber would penalize her if she canceled a trip for an aggressive passenger or a passenger raising other safety concerns.
In Chicago, a man was charged in five area cases. He picked up four of his five victims by claiming to be an Uber driver.
In India, an UberEats promotion offered a discount on food delivery, suggesting that a customer “let your wife take a day off from the kitchen” and thus presuming that all cooking is done by women and not men. Readers criticized Uber’s promotion as perpetuating gender stereotypes.
In March 2017 remarks, in response to a widely-circulated blog by former Uber employe Susan Fowler about sexual harassment and the company’s refusal to respond to complaints of sexual harassment, Uber Board Member Arianna Huffington denied that sexual harassment at Uber was a “systemic problem”:
Yes, there were some bad apples, unquestionably. But this is not a systemic problem
In sharp contrast, when former Attorney General Eric Holder and colleagues examined misconduct at Uber, their report found 215 complaints of inappropriate workplace conduct, yielding at least 20 firings, 31 retrainings, and 7 final warnings.
Who’s Driving You? reports 287 incidents of alleged sexual assaults by Uber and Lyft drivers.
A Chicago-area Uber driver was ordered held on $100,000 of bond based on the allegation that he demanded sex from a 19-year-old passenger. The allegations continued: When she refused, the driver repeatedly locked the car’s doors and refused to let her out. She ultimately jumped out of the moving vehicle when it slowed in traffic.
Uber said it removed the driver from its service.