Uber Has Suffered So Many Embarrassments, It’s Hard To Keep Track

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Uber, the ride-sharing tech giant, has experienced so many missteps, debacles and embarrassments in recent months, that it’s quit difficult to keep track.

Allegations of sexual harassment, systemic sexism, rampant lewd behavior, and cutthroat work culture, as well as a number of varying lawsuits, reveal an Uber under pressure from many directions.

Susan J. Fowler, a former female engineer for Uber, wrote a highly disturbing and incredibly creepy account of her time at the ride-hailing company.

“It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR,” Fowler wrote in a tell-all blog post, which included accusations of unfair treatment after reporting the manager.

After being inspired by her going public, over a hundred female employees reportedly met with Kalanick and told him that sexism at the company was “systemic” and not unique to Fowler. (RELATED: Is This Anonymous App Helping Fuel An Insurrection At Uber?)

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick proudly announced that he was hiring former Attorney General Eric Holder (who’s worked with the company before), Arianna Huffington (Uber board member and the co-founder of the eponymous media outlet Huffington Post), and two other internal employees to “independently” investigate allegations and the apparent lack of diversity.

Two of Uber’s early investors said they are “disappointed” and “frustrated” that Kalanick chose people with close ties to the company to review the situation because they felt it essentially discredited the evaluation.

Soon after, Uber felt compelled to dismiss the company’s senior vice president after learning he faced sexual harassment allegations while at Google, his prior place of employment.

Then, to make matters worse, more than 30 current or former employees took their testimonies of work conduct, some apparently including surreptitiously recorded management meetings, to the The New York Times. (RELATED: Uber’s Been Using A Secretive Tool To Avoid Detection By Predatory Regulators)

The workers spoke of salacious and dangerous escapades, including booze-filled ragers, bosom-grabbing, consumption of illicit drugs and a joy ride in a temporarily hijacked shuttle bus. They also detailed a work culture where the only way to get ahead is to literally stage a coup on a direct supervisor.

Then just this past week, Kalanick apologized after he was caught on camera arguing with a driver who vehemently disagreed with his business maneuvers.

“By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully,” Kalanick wrote in an official apology published on Uber’s website. “To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement.”

While lawsuits are actually quite common for a number of highly successful tech companies and not unique to Uber, the details of allegations against the conglomerate are troubling. (RELATED: Judge Rules Uber Drivers In London Must Pass An English Test)

A former Uber employee sued the ride-sharing company for age discrimination and whistleblower retaliation. He said he was wrongfully fired after he spoke out about Uber illegally deleting data that showed it was intensely tracking people.

“Uber’s lack of security regarding its customer data was resulting in Uber employees being able to track high profile politicians, celebrities [allegedly including Beyoncé], and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses,” Ward Spangenberg, who worked as a forensic investigator for the ride-sharing service, wrote in a court declaration. (RELATED: Uber Is Tracking Your Location Even After The Ride Is Over)

Google’s self-driving car company is also suing Uber’s driverless truck arm for allegedly stealing data and using it to further its autonomous vehicle development. (RELATED: Uber, Anheuser-Busch Use Self-Driving Truck To Deliver 45,000 Cans Of ‘America’)

A judge ruled in December that Uber must pay the U.S. National Federation for the Blind $2.38 million after the advocacy group sued the company in 2014 for frequently declining to pick up riders with service animals.

With all of these apparent fiascos (both alleged and corroborated) Lyft, Uber’s ride-sharing little brother and only viable competitor, is trying to capitalize and seek at least $500 million in investments.

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