Uber Hires Eric Holder to Investigate Gender Discrimination Claims

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Claims of harassment and discrimination first surfaced when a former Uber engineer posted a scathing blog post about her experience there on Sunday.

Uber has tapped former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help investigate claims of gender discrimination at the company after a former employee posted a scathing account of her time working there, including multiple instances of sexism. 

CEO Travis Kalanick sent a memo to his employees Monday, reports CNN, one day after the blog post was published, which responded to the blog and listed how Uber planned to address the allegations. 

"It's been a tough 24 hours," he wrote. "I know the company is hurting, and understand everyone has been waiting for more information on where things stand and what actions we are going to take."

He went on to detail his plan, which included bringing on Holder and lawyer Tammy Albarran, who will "conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly. Joining them will be Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber's board, Liane Hornsey, our recently hired Chief Human Resources Officer, and Angela Padilla, our Associate General Counsel. I expect them to conduct this review in short order."

The allegations of gender discrimination surfaced after a former engineer at Uber published a blog post Sunday which detailed her experience at the company, including several instances of sexism. 

In what she described as a "strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story," engineer Susan Fowler, who worked at Uber between 2015 and December 2016, wrote that her year on the job began with a sexist incident on her very first official day. 

"In my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat," Fowler wrote. "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."

On Sunday night, CEO Kalanick said he has ordered an "urgent investigation" into the matter.

He wrote in the memo to staff Monday: "I believe in creating a workplace where a deep sense of justice underpins everything we do. Every Uber employee should be proud of the culture we have and what we will build together over time. What is driving me through all this is a determination that we take what's happened as an opportunity to heal wounds of the past and set a new standard for justice in the workplace. It is my number one priority that we come through this a better organization, where we live our values and fight for and support those who experience injustice."