The US government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has opened an investigation into Uber for gender disparities pertaining to hiring practices and pay. The commission’s investigation was reportedly opened last August, but recently came to light through news reports. According to sources with knowledge of the matter, investigators have been interviewing current and former employees and looking through company documents to gather more information.
In February 2017, Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, published an account of the sexism and sexual harassment she experienced while working for the company. That account, along with several other company scandals, led to the resignation of Uber founder Travis Kalanick as CEO and his replacement with Dara Khosrowshahi. Khosrowshahi vowed to clean up the company and get it back on the right track.
The news of the EEOC investigation comes after several notable departures from the company. In June, chief brand officer Bozoma Saint John left after just one year. Uber’s head of HR Liane Hornsey recently resigned after allegations of racial discrimination were substantiated. Barney Harford, the company’s chief operating officer, had been accused of making insensitive racial comments in “several informal and formal complaints”, according to reports.
Gender discrimination at the company has become a widely discussed issue. A spokesperson for Uber said in a statement, “We are continually improving as a company and have proactively made a lot of changes in the last 18 months, including implementing a new salary and equity structure based on the market, overhauling our performance review process, publishing Diversity & Inclusion reports, and rolling out diversity and leadership trainings to thousands of employees globally.”
The EEOC declined to provide details of its investigation due to “confidentiality provisions,” and said it does not confirm or deny open investigations. There are reportedly five criminal investigations into Uber’s business practices ongoing. The company is also being sued by former software engineer Ingrid Avendaño, who claims she experienced sexual harassment, racial discrimination and pay inequity.