Daily Management Review

After Harassment Probe, Uber Fires 20 Employees


After Harassment Probe, Uber Fires 20 Employees
Following an investigation by a law firm into sexual harassment allegations and other claims at the ride-hailing company, Uber Technologies Inc said on Tuesday that it fired 20 employees and was improving management training.
Uber hired law firm Perkins Coie to look into claims of harassment, discrimination, bullying and other employee concerns and it fired the staff following its report.
A broader investigation is also underway by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder into company culture and practices and the law firm has been working in parallel that investigation.
Action was taken in 58 cases and no action on 100 more as Perkins Coie investigated 215 staff complaints going back as far as 2012, Uber said.
employees based at Uber's San Francisco headquarters filed the bulk of the complaints, the company said.   
It would dramatically increase management training since most Uber managers were first-time bosses and would expand its employee relations unit to better investigate claims, said the world's highest-valued venture-backed company - worth $68 billion at its last funding round.
All managers, reporting to Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick, would be trained by Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei who has been hired by the company.
In order to report concerns and has implemented a system to log and track all complaints, it is offering a confidential helpline for employees, Uber also said.
A series of events this year have raised questions about Uber's business model and leadership and Uber's firing of employees comes after those incidents.
Managers and human resources officers had not punished her manager after she reported his unwanted sexual advances, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler said in a widely read blog post in February.
In addition, the company is caught up in legal battles around the world over the way its ride-services business operates and was caught using technology to avoid regulator crackdowns, a video surfaced showing Kalanick berating an Uber driver.
A law suit alleging trade secret theft is also being faced by Uber from Alphabet Inc's self-driving car division, Waymo.
"They are heading the right way, both with action and reaction," said Jason Hanold, manager partner at human resources executive recruitment firm Hanold Associates. He added it was "not nearly a complete and final surgery to heal a troubled culture."
Including an East Coast general manager and several high-level engineers, heads of finance and product, and the company president, the move follows a string of executive departures at Uber.
A chief operating officer to work alongside Kalanick, who has earned a reputation as a pugnacious leader, is being sought by Uber for the last three months. The search is being overseen by Uber board member Bill Gurley.
Law firm Covington & Burling was asked to conduct a broad review of sexual harassment at Uber as well as general questions about diversity and inclusion and Uber has also been under the microscope of Holder and Tammy Albarran, partners at the law firm. A company representative told the media that the report has been shared with a subcommittee of the Uber board of directors since it was completed at the end of May.