3 Things That Made Uber’s Week Even Worse

Jun 08, 2017

For the last few months, Uber has been dealing with sexual harassment allegations, an exodus of key executives, and a video of its CEO berating a driver.

Things got even uglier this week.

On Tuesday, Uber was said to have terminated more than 20 employees as a result of its internal investigation led by an outside law firm. The company cited sexual harassment and an array of other behaviors, such as bullying and retaliation, as reasons for the firings.

A day later, tech news site Recode reported that Eric Alexander, Uber’s president of business in the Asia-Pacific region, was fired after it was learned that obtained the medical records of an Uber customer who was raped by her driver in India three years ago.

Alexander reportedly showed her medical records to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, senior vice president Emil Michael, and other executives. Some of the executives had reportedly been skeptical about the victim’s story about the rape and suspected that Ola, Uber’s ride-hailing rival in India, was involved with the incident in an attempt to sabotage Uber.

"It is a shame that the privacy and morals of a woman have to be questioned in an attempt to trivialise a horrific crime," Ola said in a statement to Buzzfeed after the news about the medical records emerged. "It is despicable that anyone can even conceive an attempt to malign competition using this as an opportunity. If this report were to be even remotely true, this is an all time low on morality and a reflection of the very character of an organisation."

Then on Wednesday, the news site The Information revealed that Uber instituted an algorithm-based compensation system in 2015 to determine the lowest pay and stock option packages possible to attract new hires to the company. Kalanick approved the new program in an effort to protect existing shareholders from the value of their shares being diluted. While the program saved Uber millions of dollars of equity, it also reportedly led to greater pay discrepancies between employees who held similar jobs and raised questions about whether female employees received less compensation than their male co-workers.

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How is Uber chief Kalanick handling the turmoil at his company?

Arianna Huffington told CNBC that Kalanick has been meditating in the office lactation room, because the office doesn't have any rooms specifically dedicated to meditation. “Literally, it was an amazing moment last week when we were in the office and he said, 'I really need to go meditate in order to be in a place to make good decisions right now,'" Huffington said at the iCONIC conference in New York City on Wednesday.

Next week isn't expected to get much better. The company plans to release the findings of its internal investigation and make some portions of it public. The investigation, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, began in February after an ex-Uber engineer published a blog post in which she said she had repeatedly complained about sexual harassment and discrimination at the ride-hailing company.

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