Home / Tag Archives: sexual-harassment

Tag Archives: sexual-harassment

Come see Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at TC Disrupt

In the days of Uber 1.0, the ethos seemed to be about doing all the wrong things. Now, with former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at the helm, Uber is clearly on its way to becoming a sort of Expedia for transportation. Though, Khosrowshahi has previously likened Uber’s business to aligning more with the idea of an Amazon for transportation. At TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco in September, Khosrowshahi will join me to discuss Uber’s big plan to own the entire transportation experience for people, the highs and lows of his first year on the job, Uber’s upcoming initial public offering and much more. Under Khosrowshahi’s leadership, Uber officially became a multi-modal transportation platform with its acquisition of  JUMP Bikes for about $200 million , the launch of  UberRENT and a public transportation partnership with Masabi. Oh, and Uber is also working on electric scooters, as well as flying cars via its Elevate program. Just like residential and buildings have gone three-dimensional, Khosrowshahi said at a tech conference in May, “you’re going to have to build a third-dimension in terms of transportation.” For Uber,  Elevate is its “big bet ” on that third-dimension of transportation, he said. The big plan with all of these modes of transportation — whether that’s bike sharing, electric scooter sharing, ride sharing, flight sharing or whatnot — is to become a multi-modal transportation service. Under the leadership of Khosrowshahi, Uber also seems to be moving into an era where the company works with governments, instead of in spite of them. This is quite the 180 for Uber. Before the days of Khosrowshahi, Uber was  reluctant  to share data with cities. Now, Uber is expanding Movement,  a platform that anonymizes and aggregates Uber data  to map travel times, to 12 new cities across five continents. The intent is to help urban planners, local leaders and civic communities make more informed decisions. While Khosrowshahi is making positive moves in a business direction, it’s worth noting the company is still in need of a chief financial officer, and there have been some high-level departures that have continued under his leadership. In June, for example, Uber’s chief brand officer, Bozoma Saint John, left a little after one year of joining the company .

Read More »

Didi will resume late night Hitch rides, but only allow drivers to pick up passengers of the same sex

Didi Chuxing ’s inter-city carpooling service will resume night operations on a limited basis about a month after a female passenger was allegedly murdered by an unregistered driver who accessed the platform using his father’s account. Called Didi Hitch, the service will return on June 15 with new safety measures, including one that only allows drivers to serve passengers of the same sex during late night hours. Didi Hitch will also began piloting a new feature later this month called “guardian mode” (not “escort mode” as reported by some publications) that automatically shares ride details with a passenger’s emergency contacts. The company says Didi Hitch will resume partial nighttime service between the hours of 10PM to 12AM and 5AM to 6AM on June 15, but with what Didi says is a “tentative safety measure.” During those times, drivers will only be able to accept ride requests made by passengers of the same sex. In other words, male drivers can only accept male passengers, while female drivers can only accept female passengers. Guardian mode will launch on June 22 as a smale-scale pilot. When a passenger turns it on, their route is automatically shared with their emergency contacts. Didi also says its platform can monitor routes in real time and “intervene in case of any unusual activity.” Another new feature, called the shared information card, will launch on the same day and display photos of both the driver and passenger and vehicle information, with the aim of allowing both parties to verify each other’s identities. DiDi also said it will start trialing a voice recording feature for its other services, including Express, Select, ExpressPool and Minibus, in some cities. One of the most highly-valued startups in the world , Didi now claims about 30 million daily rides and 21 million driver partners. For some passengers, however, these new safety measures may not be enough to reassure them. For one thing, last month’s murder meant that the alleged perpetrator was able to overcome several safety measures. First, he used his father’s verified driver account to access the platform. Secondly, Didi Chuxing’s facial recognition technology, which it has used since 2016 to verify drivers when they first sign up and then when they log in to start shifts, failed

Read More »

Former software engineer accuses Uber of “degrading conduct” toward women in new lawsuit

A former Uber software engineer filed a lawsuit against the company today in the Superior Court of California, accusing it of retaliating against her for after she reported sexual harassment and discrimination. The complaint by Ingrid Avendaño, who worked at Uber from 2014 to 2017, alleges that Uber’s workplace “was permeated with degrading, marginalizing, discriminatory and sexually harassing conduct toward women.” Avendaño’s account and her claim that “this culture was perpetuated and condoned by numerous managers, including high level company leaders” is similar to the description of Uber’s internal culture presented by Susan Fowler, also a former Uber engineer, in her pivotal  February 2017 blog post . Fowler’s account led to an internal investigation, multiple firings and, along with other company scandals, contributed to the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick. Avendaño’s complaint (“Ingrid Avendaño v. Uber Technologies, Inc.,” Case No. CGC-18-566677 in the Superior Court of California, San Francisco County) claims that when she tried to report misconduct, she faced “blatant retaliation, including denial of promotions and raises, unwarranted negative performance reviews and placement on an oppressively demanding on-call schedule that had detrimental effects on her health. She was also threatened with termination.” Avendaño eventually resigned from Uber, the lawsuit says. Avendaño is represented by Outten & Golden, a law firm that specializes in employee rights. Last October, Avendaño and two other Latina software engineers were the named plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Uber for allegedly discriminating against women and people of color. But Avendaño later opted out of the collective action and, according to Outten & Golden, did not participate when Uber agreed to a settlement in March 2018. The lawsuit filed by Avendaño today is separate from that settlement.

Read More »

Uber ends policy of forced arbitration for individual sexual assault claims

In a major policy change for its US operations, Uber has announced it’s ending mandatary arbitration for individual claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by Uber drivers, riders or employees. It is also ending the requirement that victims sign a confidentiality provision preventing them from speaking about the sexual assault or sexual harassment they suffered — saying survivors will now have the option to settle their claims with Uber without having to agree to being publicly silenced in order to do so. Last month a group of women alleging sexual violence from Uber drivers sent an open letter to the company’s board asking to be released from the mandatory arbitration clause in the Uber app’s terms of service. Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler — who was instrumental in highlighting internal problems with sexual harassment and sexism at Uber when she blogged about her experiences at the company last year  — also urged CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to end the policy. And in a  Twitter exchange  in March Khosrowshahi signaled he was willing to consider ending forced arbitration. “I will take it seriously, but we have to take all of our constituents into consideration,” he wrote to Fowler then. Concerns about safety and Uber’s attitude to reporting serious crimes were also among the reasons identified by London’s transport regulator for withdrawing Uber’s license to operate in the UK capital  last September . Although safety transparency measures also being announced by Uber today appear limited to the US market for now. Uber says it will be publishing what it describes as a “safety transparency report” — which it says will include data on sexual assaults and “other incidents” that occur as a result of activity on its platform. Announcing the moves in a blog post  today, entitled ‘Turning the lights on’, Uber’s chief legal officer Tony West writes that the company has committed to doing “the right thing” under its new CEO — a new attitude which requires “three key elements: transparency, integrity, and accountability”. Describing sexual violence as “a huge problem globally”, he continues: “The last 18 months have exposed a  silent epidemic  of sexual assault and harassment that haunts every industry and every community. Uber is not immune to this deeply rooted problem, and we believe that it is up to us to be a big part of the solution.” Commenting on Uber’s policy changes to end mandatory arbitration, Jeanne Christensen, a partner at New York based law firm Wigdor LLP, which filed a class action lawsuit against Uber last year on behalf of women who said they were assaulted or raped by Uber drivers, described it as a critical step to “reduce future suffering by women passengers”. But she also flagged Uber’s decision to not end forced arbitration for groups of victims acting on a class basis — saying this shows the company is “not fully committed to meaningful change”

Read More »