U.S.A. (NBC)(12/19/19)— Uber has agreed to pay $4.4 million to resolve an Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner’s (EEOC) 2017 charge of sex discrimination, the agency announced Wednesday.
The settlement ends an investigation launched in the wake of reports alleging Uber’s leadership allowed for discrimination and harassment in the workplace under former-CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.
According to a press release, the EEOC said its investigation “found reasonable cause to believe that Uber permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
Uber called its own investigation into its workplace environment led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, which issued a series of recommendations for the company to update its workplace policies.
Uber fired more than 20 employees following a separate internal investigation into gender bias and sexual harassment. Kalanick stepped down as CEO in June of 2017, but retained his board seat.
The $4.4 million Uber will pay to settle the charges will create a fund to compensate those the EEOC determines “experienced sexual harassment and/or related retaliation after January 1, 2014.”
The EEOC said a claims administrator will contact all female employees who worked at the company between Jan. 1, 2014 and June 30, 2019 and give them the opportunity to submit a claim through a questionnaire.
According to the release, Uber will also create a system to identify employees accused of harassment as well as managers who fail to respond to sexual harassment reports “in a timely manner.”
An outside consultant will help Uber update its policies, and former EEOC Commissioner Fred Alvarez will monitor the company for three years.
“Uber should serve as an example to other employers for its commitment to holding management accountable and identifying repeat offenders. The tech industry, among others, has often ignored allegations of sexual harassment when an accused harasser is seen as more valuable to the company than the accuser.”William Tamayo, EEOC San Francisco District Director
EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic said in a statement the agreement “holds Uber accountable, and, going forward, positions the company to innovate and transform the tech industry by modeling effective measures against sexual harassment and retaliation.”
Lipnic, who co-chairs the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, initiated the charge after “widespread publicity in 2017 concerning the treatment of female employees at Uber.”
EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon commended Uber for cooperating with the commission.
“This resolution demonstrates the benefits of working cooperatively with EEOC and serves as a model for businesses committed to truly leveling the playing field where opportunity is not circumscribed by one’s gender,” she said in a statement.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure that all employees can thrive at Uber by putting fairness and accountability at the heart of who we are and what we do,” Uber Chief Legal Officer Tony West said in a statement included in the EEOC press release. “I am extremely pleased that we were able to work jointly with the EEOC in continuing to strengthen these efforts.”