US economy

Uber to pay $4.4m to settle gender discrimination claims

Uber has agreed with the US government to pay $4.4m to settle claims of gender discrimination in the workplace, following allegations in 2017 that ended up sparking the #MeToo movement.

The allegedly toxic workplace environment at the ride-hailing giant came to prominent attention when a 25-year-old ex-employee, Susan Fowler, wrote a detailed blog about her “very, very strange year at Uber.” Ms Fowler would later be one of five women dubbed “The Silence Breakers” for Time magazine’s Person of the Year issue.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission undertook an “extensive investigation” of the claims and on Wednesday said it had “found reasonable cause to believe that Uber permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment.”

Uber agreed to pay $4.4m into a fund “to compensate anyone who the EEOC determines experienced sexual harassment and/or related retaliation after January 1, 2014.”

Current or former employees from 2014 to mid-2019 who believe they experienced harassment are still eligible to make a claim.

Uber has also agreed to update its policies and be monitored for three years by former EEOC commissioner Fred Alvarez.

Tony West, Uber’s legal head, said the company has worked hard to inculcate a culture of “fairness and accountability.”

Those steps include a raft of new hires at the top of the company, including chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi in September 2017.

The number of women in leadership roles also grew from 20.9 per cent in March 2018 to 28 per cent a year later, Uber said.

The settlement comes two weeks after Uber released a first-of-its-kind safety study that tallied up the number of sexual assault claims, violent attacks and other abuses that have taken place between Uber drivers and passengers.

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