NPR discussed on All Things Considered

NPR

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You're listening to All Things Considered from NPR news uber will pay four point four million dollars to employees who were sexually harassed at work the settlement resolves an investigation by the equal employment opportunity commission I found uber allowed a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation the investigation came after a series of scandals that led to the ouster of uber's co founder and C. E. O. Travis Kalanick in two thousand seventeen more than two years later we were still trying to clean up its workplace culture NPR tech correspondent Shannon bond is here to discuss it hi Shannon hi tell us more about the settlement yeah this is just the latest chapter in the long running issues with diverse culture in this case about sexual harassment and retaliation for reporting that her Asman so in this settlement over will pay four point four million dollars into a fund for current and former employees with complaints dating back to twenty fourteen and that amount might not be big but over doesn't come out looking perfectly good from this it's agreed to have its workplace be monitored by a former EEOC commissioner for three years and the message that this federal agency is sending is really to the entire tech industry EEOC officials say the settlement will hold over accountable but they also hope it'll encourage other workers to speak up about sexism intact explain more about why the EOC was investigating uber in the first place yeah this goes back to early twenty seventeen a woman named Susan Fowler who is an engineer who had recently left over wrote this really shocking blog post describing a toxic work environment there she said right when she first started her manager propositioned her and she later heard from other women this wasn't the first time that it happened when she complained she says HR and management protected the manager who they said was a high performer not post really set off this chain reaction there is an internal investigation twenty employees were fired for bad behavior in this and other scandals ultimately culminated in the ouster of Travis Kalanick the CEO that summer and federal regulators including the EEOC began looking into a bar and what about the EOC investigation find well the EOC says it found quote reasonable cause to believe that it were permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation and that matches what other investigations over the years about over have found their Dara Custer Shockey who replaced Kalanick SCO has pledged to change overs ways and has made some changes they got rid of a requirement that sexual harassment and assault complaints be settled in arbitration those claims cannot be taken to court how significant is the settlement in the context of a company like uber four point four million dollars doesn't sound like a whole lot of money yeah it's not much money at all especially here in Silicon Valley I mean remember uber is the company that brought in eleven billion dollars in revenue last year that's less than a tenth of the mount then the settlement is less than a tenth of the pay that CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took home last year and burst paid other bigger settlements like last year paid ten million dollars to settle claims of race and gender discrimination so I I I asked this question to Adrian Lawrence who is a lawyer and has a book coming out about sexual harassment workplace faster you know what she made of it here's what she said so when we consider how much this four point four million dollar settlement fund is it's really just a drop in the bucket but she says the the someone also sends an important message to employees and other tech companies a possibility of facing workplace penalties fines and continuing to really be subject to government monitoring that is something that Burr and a lot of tech companies they don't really want and we know sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in Silicon Valley not a city Burr so the hope is this will put other companies on notice to tech correspondent Shannon bond thank.

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