Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Dogs at Uber Hit On Susan Fowler, Treat Her Like a Sex Object, Pay for It Online Later

Who let the dogs out? Asks the Internet Community


February 24, 2017


Susan Fowler at a book signing.

Susan Fowler joined Uber as a Site Reliability Engineer and immediately was treated like an attractive cat living in a frat house with a bunch of mutts. She was chased all over the building, fed cat food, threatened with being let out the door, and not given a leather jacket. Uber is about to find out that this particular cat has claws and lawyers.

Uber's CEO said Sunday that he was "investigating" the former employee's online account of sexual harassment and gender bias during her time at Uber. An app that helps guys with Middle Eastern accents and garlic on their breath, pick up strangers and take them to JFK or LAX. Who would have thought it?

Fowler began to work for Uber in November 2015. Fresh from her feminism classes at UC Berkeley, she kept a log documenting multiple instances of managers and human resource people trying to get her in bed, or not stopping men who hit on her.

Fowler's allegations included: . As Fowler puts it, it is "a strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story that deserves to be told."

"On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn't. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn't help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with."

"It was clear that [my new manager] was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR."

"Upper management told me that [that manager] 'was a high performer' (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn't feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part."

Based on alleged discussions with other women in the company "it became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being 'his first offense,' and it certainly wasn't his last."

"I was then told that I had to make a choice: (i) I could either go and find another team and then never have to interact with this man again, or (ii) I could stay on the team, but I would have to understand that he would most likely give me a poor performance review when review time came around, and there was nothing they could do about that. I remarked that this didn't seem like much of a choice, and that I wanted to stay on the team because I had significant expertise in the exact project that the team was struggling to complete (it was genuinely in the company's best interest to have me on that team), but they told me the same thing again and again. One HR rep even explicitly told me that it wouldn't be retaliation if I received a negative review later because I had been "given an option". I tried to escalate the situation but got nowhere with either HR or with my own management chain (who continued to insist that they had given him a stern-talking to and didn't want to ruin his career over his "first offense")."

After allegedly promising to buy leather jackets for the whole team, a member of management allegedly said "that no leather jackets were being ordered for the women because there were not enough women in the organization to justify placing an order."

A director "said that because there were so many men in the org, they had gotten a significant discount on the men's jackets but not on the women's jackets, and it wouldn't be equal or fair, he argued, to give the women leather jackets that cost a little more than the men's jackets."

On February 10, Susan Fowler Rigetti tweeted this photo: "I married the love of my life, my soulmate today!"

"(My manager) told me I was on very thin ice for reporting his manager to HR. California is an at-will employment state, he said, which means we can fire you if you ever do this again. I told him that was illegal, and he replied that he had been a manager for a long time, he knew what was illegal, and threatening to fire me for reporting things to HR was not illegal."

"I reported his threat immediately after the meeting to both HR and to the CTO: they both admitted that this was illegal, but none of them did anything."

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a comment on the matter:

"I have just read Susan Fowler's blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It's the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber - and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired."


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020

Rendered 09/22/2020 12:09