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Former employee sues Uber for sexual harassment, discrimination

CNN—Sara Ashley O'Brien

A former Uber software engineer is suing the company over claims that she experienced sexual harassment, racial discrimination and pay inequity while working there.

Ingrid Avendaño, who worked for Uber from February 2014 to June 2017, filed her lawsuit Monday in California Superior Court. It comes a week after Uber said it would eliminate its forced arbitration policy for survivors of sexual assault and harassment, whether they're riders, drivers or employees. That decision came after a CNN investigation into sexual assaults and abuse by Uber drivers.

Among the claims in Avendaño's lawsuit: Uber did not do enough to address allegations of harassment. For example, she said that an engineer "repeatedly made unwelcome, demeaning comments about women" in front of her and other employees — and that human resources did nothing when she reported him.

Months later, Avendaño discovered that the same employee told her coworkers that the only reason she had a job was "because she slept with someone at the company," according to the complaint. She complained again, and the man was fired.

The lawsuit says that Avendaño faced fallout afterward, and was "isolated and ignored by many male Uber managers and other employees" who had worked with the man.

She also claimed that she was inappropriately touched by a senior software engineer, and that she witnessed other employees who made inappropriate comments and shared sexually explicit content at work.

Avendaño says she endured emotional and physical stress, and was hospitalized as a result of her experience. She eventually resigned "because Uber's failure to take effective remedial measures threatened Avendaño's already compromised emotional and physical health."

She's asking in the lawsuit to be compensated for lost wages and benefits, and for damages related to emotional distress. She wants to be reinstated to her job at Uber.

Avendaño also wants Uber to be ordered to provide equal employment opportunities and "eradicate the effects of their past and present unlawful employment practices."

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