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Uber to pay $4.4 million to settle federal sexual harassment probe

Uber headquarters building
People enter the San Francisco building that houses Uber’s headquarters in 2017.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Uber Technologies Inc. will establish a $4.4-million fund to settle a federal investigation into allegations that the San Francisco company allowed a rampant culture of sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced this week.

The agreement ends an investigation launched in 2017 in which the commission found reasonable cause to believe the ride-hailing tech company “permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment.”

A claims administrator will send notices to women who worked at Uber between Jan. 1, 2014, and June 30, 2019. The commission will determine which claimants may be eligible for money from the $4.4-million fund.

The company has also agreed to create a system to identify serial offenders and managers who fail to respond to concerns about sexual harassment in a timely manner.

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The commission initiated the investigation after a former Uber engineer wrote a widely circulated blog post exposing sexual harassment at the company, including propositions from her boss. Susan Fowler said her complaints to human resources were ignored.

The company fired 20 people, including some managers, after an investigation by former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder’s law firm.

The commission’s district director in San Francisco, William Tamayo, applauded Uber’s commitment to accountability. He said the “tech industry, among others, has often ignored allegations of sexual harassment when an accused harasser is seen as more valuable to the company than the accuser.”

Uber’s chief legal officer, Tony West, said he was pleased to work with the commission on the settlement.

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As part of its bid to increase transparency, Uber revealed this month that more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported during U.S. rides in 2018. Drivers and riders were both attacked in the reported assaults, and some of the assaults occurred between riders.


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