Uber is target of US inquiry into gender discrimination

The inquiry into the ride-hailing company focuses on allegations of pay disparities and other discriminatory conduct toward women

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 5:54am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 6:35am

Uber is the focus of a gender discrimination investigation by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), said a person familiar with the matter, as new questions arise about the company’s corporate culture.

The inquiry, which began in August, focuses on allegations of pay disparities and other discriminatory conduct toward women, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. It’s one of more than a half-dozen federal investigations into the ride-hailing company that have emerged in the last year or so.

Uber is trying to rebuild its reputation after a tumultuous year in which allegations of discrimination and questionable business practices led to the firing of about 20 employees and the ouster of co-founder Travis Kalanick as chief executive officer. Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over for Kalanick in September, has said he is remaking Uber to be a more ethical company.

But Khosrowshahi’s efforts were dealt two high-profile setbacks in the last week. On Tuesday, Uber said Liane Hornsey, the human resources chief, was departing. The staff change came after an accusation that she didn’t take allegations of racial discrimination seriously. On Friday, The New York Times reported that Barney Harford, the chief operating officer appointed by Khosrowshahi, had apologised to employees after complaints he had made insensitive racial remarks during a conference call.

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“We are continually improving as a company and have proactively made a lot of changes in the last 18 months,” said Matt Kallman, an Uber spokesman. He said the San Francisco-based company was implementing a new salary and equity structure, overhauling its performance review process and rolling out diversity and leadership training to much of its 18,000 employees globally. The discrimination inquiry was reported earlier Monday by The Wall Street Journal.

The EEOC declined to comment on the investigation, citing confidentiality rules.