Uber has fired 20 employees in recent months as part of a wide-ranging investigation of the climate and culture at the popular ride-hailing service, the company said Tuesday.
The report of the firings initially came from an attorney at the Perkins Coie law firm, which Uber hired to assist in a broader harassment investigation at the company and which made a presentation at the company’s weekly staff meeting Tuesday.
The company later said the firings, which included some senior executives, were for sexual harassment, discrimination, unprofessional behavior, retaliation, bullying and physical safety issues. Most but not all of those fired worked at Uber’s San Francisco headquarters.
“This is enormous. For corporate allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct to lead to firing 20 people, I know of no comparable corporate action. It’s unprecedented,” said Debra Katz, a partner with Katz Marshall & Banks, a Washington-based firm specializing in representing employees who bring sexual harassing claims against companies. “This is a significant action by Uber to give a strong message to take these actions seriously.”
Katz said Uber’s decision cast doubt on earlier comments by board member Arianna Huffington, who is on a committee overseeing Uber’s workplace culture and who had said that Uber had “some bad apples” but that the company’s problems were not systemic. “This seems to suggest that they cannot simply say it’s only a few bad apples here.”