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Three Latina engineers sue Uber, saying it underpays women and minorities

Three Latina engineers sue Uber, saying it underpays women and minorities
The lawsuit by three Latina engineers contends that Uber’s performance evaluations favored men and white and Asian American workers over everyone else. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt / AFP)

Three Latina engineers sued Uber this week alleging unfair labor practices, saying the ride-hailing company systemically underpays women and other underrepresented groups.

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The software engineers — Ingrid Avendaño and Roxana del Toro Lopez, who left Uber in June and August, respectively, and current Uber employee Ana Medina — alleged in their lawsuit that Uber’s performance evaluations favored men and white and Asian American workers over everyone else.

Promotions, salary increases and bonuses were tied to the performance evaluations, they said in the suit, which was filed Tuesday in San Francisco County Superior Court.

The lawsuit also alleges that female engineers and engineers of color (which it defines as Latino, African American or Native American) overall received less compensation than their male and Asian American counterparts, and that women in particular were disadvantaged because the company set compensation based on their past compensation.

“This practice disadvantages women, who are generally paid 18% less than men in the same occupation in the marketplace,” said the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of plaintiffs by law firm Outten and Golden. “It also disadvantages people of color, who are generally paid significantly less than whites in the same occupation in the marketplace."

The plaintiffs demand a jury trial and payment of back wages, an injunction to stop Uber from “engaging in policies, patterns, and/or practices that discriminate against Plaintiffs and all aggrieved employees because of their gender,” and an order that Uber implement policies and practices that provide equal opportunities for all employees.

Uber declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The San Francisco ride-hailing company has spent the last year embroiled in controversy. It was slapped with a lawsuit from Alphabet-owned Waymo alleging theft and use of trade secrets, was investigated by law enforcement over its use of technology to circumvent regulators, and was accused by a former employee of systemically covering up sexual harassment and discrimination.

Those scandals, among others, led to the ousting of several top executives. Co-founder Travis Kalanick resigned as chief executive in June, though he remains on the company’s board.

The company then began what it billed as a cultural turnaround by bolstering its human resources division and hiring a new chief executive. In August, it increased the salaries of those who weren’t paid the median amount for their job, and it offered a 2.5% salary boost for every year an employee worked at Uber.

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