Uber Under Investigation Over Alleged Gender Discrimination

Accusations of discrimination against women continue to plague the company.

Uber
Eric Risberg—AP

Uber is being investigated by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over claims of gender discrimination within the ride-hailing company's workforce, reports The Wall Street Journal. Despite attempts to change its culture, accusations of discrimination continue to plague Uber.

The investigation was reportedly opened in August 2017, just before current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was brought in to replace Travis Kalanick. The former CEO was forced out in June 2017 in part because of what was viewed as a poor response to claims of sexual harassment by Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer.

Investigators are interviewing current and former Uber employees and looking through company documents, according to The Wall Street Journal. The investigation reportedly focuses on whether gender discrimination factored into Uber's hiring or salary decisions.

Uber issued its second-ever diversity report in April, and the results were mixed. The company said it had increased its number of female employees by 1.9 percent, to 38 percent overall representation. That included increases in technology-related fields. But the number of women in overall leadership roles decreased by 1.1 percent, to 20.9 percent representation. Uber's workforce remains mostly white and male, but that is also the case at most other U.S. tech companies.

"We are continually improving as a company and have proactively made a lot of changes in the past 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," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement.

Khosrowshahi discussed the investigation at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference Monday, saying that it "has been going on for a long period of time, and happened to show up in the press at this point." While frustrated by the leaking of the investigation, he said that "I'm not blaming it on the folks who were responsible for the leaks. I take sole responsibility."

News of the investigation came shortly after complaints against executives alleging discrimination. The New York Times reports that employees have filed multiple complaints against COO Barney Harford, who previously worked with Khosrowshahi at Expedia. Harford is said to have made insensitive comments about women and minorities, including one regarding an ad featuring a mixed-race couple.

Last week, Uber's head of HR, Liane Hornsey, resigned after allegations of racial discrimination. An internal investigation substantiated some of the claims, according to The Verge.