Susan Fowler worked as an Engineer at Uber from November 2015 to December 2016 — a year she claims was "strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying" after the company refused to do anything when she went to HR with several complaints about sexual harassment and sexism in the workplace.
According to Fowler’s blog posted on Sunday, her first manager at the company sexually harassed her via online chats — but nothing was ever done, despite her handing over screenshots:
"My new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. 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."
She went on:
"When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to. Upper management told me that he ‘was a high performer’ (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part."
Fowler said she was given a "choice" to stay or transfer teams, and she ultimately moved to a different area, despite it not being her expertise.
As she met more (of the very few) women at the company, she began to realize that several others had formally complained about "inappropriate interactions" with that first manager — despite HR saying her story was his first offense.
They went back to HR as a group, and yet still no action was taken.
After outlining several other examples of a "game-of-thrones political war raging within the ranks of upper management" — Fowler revealed that her (previously perfect) performance score was intentionally lowered by the company in order for her transfer to be blocked.
It turns out, having a woman engineer on his team made her manager look good, and he wasn’t willing to give that up despite her unhappiness.
Even though Fowler’s reports were never taken seriously, she continued to send her claims to HR whenever something crazy happened… just to have a running log.
That’s when this supposedly happened.
Managers said the company would order leather jackets only for male employees, "because there were not enough women in the organization to justify placing an order."
When Fowler reported to HR that women employees were being treated differently, and they responded by suggesting she was the problem:
"The HR rep began the meeting by asking me if I had noticed that *I* was the common theme in all of the reports I had been making, and that if I had ever considered that I might be the problem."
Her manager later told her she was "on very thin ice for reporting his manager to HR."
She found a new job at Stripe shortly after. Good riddance!
In response to Fowler’s blog, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (pictured above) issued a statement saying this behavior will not be tolerated:
"I have just read Susan Fowler’s blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It’s the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace for everyone and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired."
Arianna Huffington chimed in:
Just talked w/ Travis & as a representative of Uber’s Board I will work w/Liane to conduct a full independent investigation starting now 1/2
— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) February 20, 2017
We really hope they get to the bottom of this!