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Uber dismissed 20 employs after harassment probe

By Reuters
Uber Technologies Inc said on Tuesday it fired 20 employees and was improving management training following an investigation by a law firm into sexual harassment allegations and other claims at the ride-hailing company.

Uber fired the staff following a report by law firm Perkins Coie, which Uber hired to look into claims of harassment, discrimination, bullying and other employee concerns.

The law firm has been working in parallel with a broader investigation by former US Attorney General Eric Holder into company culture and practices.

Perkins Coie investigated 215 staff complaints going back as far as 2012, Uber said, taking action in 58 cases and no action on 100 more. Other investigations are continuing.

Of the 215 claims, Uber said 54 were related to discrimination, 47 related to sexual harassment, 45 to unprofessional behavior, 33 to bullying and 36 to other types of claims.

It said the majority of the claims came from employees based at Uber’s San Francisco headquarters.

The world’s highest-valued venture-backed company – worth $68 billion at its last funding round – also told staff on Tuesday it would expand its employee relations unit to better investigate claims and that it would dramatically increase management training since most Uber managers were first-time bosses, a person familiar with the matter said.

On Monday, Uber said it hired Harvard Business School professor Frances Frei to train all managers, reporting to Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick. On Tuesday, it said Bozoma Saint John, prominent in some Apple Inc product launches, joined the company as chief brand officer.

Uber also said it is offering a confidential helpline for employees to report concerns and has implemented a system to log and track all complaints.

In February, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler said in a widely read blog post that managers and human resources officers had not punished her manager after she reported his unwanted sexual advances.

In addition, Uber was caught using technology to avoid regulator crackdowns, a video surfaced showing Kalanick berating an Uber driver, and the company is caught up in legal battles around the world over the way its ride-services business operates.

Uber is also facing a lawsuit from Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car division, Waymo, alleging trade secret theft.

The company declined to comment further on the move to fire staff. Some saw it as a step in the right direction for Uber to repair its tarnished reputation.

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Hamza Jaffery

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