Uber called its recent union deal ‘historic.’ A new complaint alleges it was actually against the law and will set a precedent in the industry for years to come.
Uber is embroiled in a new sexual harassment lawsuit against the company, bringing the controversy to its second week and now facing a new lawsuit from a former Uber engineer.
The new lawsuit, which was filed on Monday in San Francisco, alleges that Uber’s employment practices violated the California law that requires companies with more than 10 employees to make it harder for sexual harassment to take place. The suit also alleges that Uber did not take reasonable steps to prevent the misconduct.
This is the first lawsuit against Uber to go after the company’s business practices and the first serious legal challenge to its workforce practices. The lawsuit comes just four months after a similar lawsuit was filed against the ride service that accused it of using fake reviews and limiting women to a lower-paying role. The new suit alleges that Uber made its employees sign confidentiality agreements and threatened to fire employees who spoke out about sexual harassment in their workplace. Uber denied the allegations in March when its CEO wrote to the company’s workers that “we know what it means to be on our team.”
The new lawsuit was filed by a former employee, Rachel Whetstone, who was working as a recruiter for Uber in 2015. She was originally hired by Uber as a software engineer and was promoted several times during her four years with Uber, according to the suit. She was eventually promoted to a job she describes as a “co-founder” on Uber’s operations team. Whetstone says that during a meeting to discuss her career, Uber’s head of HR, David Dao, encouraged her to apply for a different role. After she was denied the other position, Whetstone says Dao told her the “company was closing doors” for women, and that he had gotten several calls saying their positions were about to be eliminated.
Whetstone says she was offered an “internal recruiter role” instead, but that she was not offered a pay increase. She says she was terminated after she complained to human resources. Whetstone says she was told she could file a complaint about her termination with Equal Rights Employment Commission or state regulators, but that she was never told if she could file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, where the harassment took place.