In 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found reasonable cause to believe that Uber Technologies allowed a culture of sexual harassment, along with retaliation against people who complained.
The EEOC began the investigation after a viral blog post exposed rampant sexual harassment at Uber. The author, a former engineer for the company, complained specifically about sexual propositions by her boss and said that her complaints were ignored.
Now, Uber has agreed to set up a $4.4-million compensation fund for victims. Those eligible will be people whom the EEOC claims have experienced sexual harassment or retaliation after Jan. 1, 2014 but before June 30, 2019. This is part of a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement of the investigation.
A claims administrator will notify women who worked at Uber during the specified time period, and the EEOC itself will determine who among them is eligible for compensation.
In addition to the compensation fund, Uber has also agreed to take steps to address the so-called culture of harassment. This will involve identifying any serial sexual harassers, along with managers who failed to address sexual harassment complaints appropriately.
Indeed, the process of winnowing out problematic employees has apparently already begun. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s law firm investigated the situation at Uber’s behest. Uber fired 20 people, including some managers.
The EEOC’s district director for San Francisco lauded Uber for accepting accountability in the matter, adding that 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.”
Sexual harassment, retaliation a problem in many industries
Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So does retaliation against those who make good-faith complaints about sexual harassment. Unfortunately, it’s not just high tech that has a problem with sexual harassment.
If you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, you may be worried that your complaint won’t be taken seriously, or worse, you will be retaliated against. If so, you should consider discussing your concerns with an attorney before taking any concrete steps to complain. A lawyer can help you polish your complaint and back it up properly with whatever evidence you have. And, the fact that you have a lawyer will make it less likely you will face retaliation.