Victims of sexual assault, rape, harassment, and gender-motivated violence criticized Uber’s arbitration clause

Fourteen victims of sexual assault, rape, harassment, and gender-motivated violence criticized Uber’s arbitration clause, which prevented them from bringing lawsuits about the harm they suffered. Their letter to Uber’s Board of Directors asked that Uber remove (or agree not to enforce) its arbitration clause as to these complaints. They noted a California case in which Uber aggressively sought to force one of their complaints into confidential arbitration. They also noted pending legislation in the United States Congress and New York State Senate that would disallow companies from requiring victims of sexual harassment or assault to proceed in arbitration.

News coverage from The Mercury News and Recode.

Huffington accused of self-dealing

Bloomberg reported that Uber board member Arianna Huffington was accused of self-dealing. For one, she sought to have Uber provide driver hubs with “nap pods” from her new wellness company. Furthermore, Huffington’s new company received $50,000 in consulting fees from Uber, though Uber staff objected to those payments and the funds were ultimately returned.

Kalanick didn’t abide by leave

When pressed to take leave in response to mounting scandals, then-CEO Travis Kalanick was seen not to comply with the leave. Board member Arianna Huffington was seen as his proxy. Bloomberg reported that Uber’s finance team was spreading the word that Kalanick was still in charge. Among Kalanick’s activities while on leave was searching employee emails to investigate leaks.

Bloomberg reported that Kalanick’s handpicked executive team objected to his meddling while on leave and sent a letter asking him to stop. Business Insider added that a sixteen-person senior management team sent a letter to Uber’s Board, complaining that Kalanick was interfering with their work and asking the Board to intervene.

Then-General Counsel Salle Yoo “expressed reservations” about acquisition of Otto

In summer 2016, Uber then-CEO Travis Kalanick sought to acquire a startup called Otto which specialized in self-driving vehicles. According to Bloomberg, then-General Counsel Salle Yoo “expressed reservations about the deal” and insisted on hiring Stroz Friedberg (cyber investigators) to assess any impropriety including the possibility, already known to her and Kalanick, that Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski was bringing files from Google, his former employer.

Bloomberg reports that Uber’s board wasn’t aware of these concerns, the Stroz findings, or Levandowski’s retention of Google files.

Uber investors challenged board decision

In October 2017, Uber’s board voted to end the benefit that let early employees and investors get 10 votes per share, a benefit which had given those groups disproportionate control. In response, early Uber investors Shervin Pishevar and Steve Russell said they would sue to block the change. Their statement:

Today’s action by the board was the culmination of a blatant bait and switch, essentially robbing loyal employees, including the more than 200 early founding Uber employees and advisors, of their hard earned shareholder rights.