Uber’s facing another lawsuit for sexual harassment

Vice—Carter Sherman
May 21, 2018

A former Uber engineer sued the ride hailing service Monday, alleging sexual harassment, gender and race discrimination, and retaliation against her when she tried to report her experiences to HR.

Ingrid Avendaño, who is Latina, says she was hired at Uber in 2014 and spent years dealing with Uber’s “male-dominated work culture, permeated with degrading, marginalizing, discriminatory, and sexually harassing conduct towards women,” according to a lawsuit she filed in California court and obtained by Recode.

Her lawsuit details several allegations of sexual misconduct, including:

  • A male coworker who repeatedly remarked, “Uber is the type of company where women can sleep their way to the top.” That same coworker also told multiple engineering teams that Avendaño only had a job at Uber because she’d slept with someone at the company.

  • A senior coworker drunkenly touched Avendaño’s upper thigh on a company retreat. He later told Avendaño that he wanted to “take [her] home.”

  • One male manager used Uber’s internal instant messenger to organize an outing to a strip club, talked about his “open relationship” with his partner, and discussed sleeping with underage girls.

Even though several of these incidents were reported to Uber management, Avendaño said that the company failed to take any real action to stop sexual misconduct. In fact, when Avendaño reported the incidents, she was denied promotions and raises. Uber higher-ups even threatened to fire Avendaño, according to the lawsuit.

Avendaño resigned from Uber last year, she alleged, after being hospitalized multiple times for exhaustion and stress related to her work at Uber and the difficulty of dealing with its company culture. She later joined a class-action lawsuit against Uber over discriminatory pay practices as a named plaintiff, but ultimately opted out because her claims were significantly different from more than 400 people who’d also joined.

Uber settled that lawsuit for $10 million in March.

Avendaño’s new lawsuit, and Uber’s plans to handle it, will be a test of Uber’s much-ballyhooed commitment to crafting a more equitable company culture.

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