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Former Uber engineer sues, tests new sex-based claims policy

CNBC—Reuters

A former software engineer at Uber Technologies filed a lawsuit on Monday against the ride-hailing service on Monday, claiming she was subjected to years of sexual harassment there and subjected to retaliation for complaining about it.

The lawsuit by Ingrid Avendano provides an early test of Uber's new policy allowing people claiming sexual harassment and sexual assault to pursue their claims in court, rather than be forced into arbitration.

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In her complaint, Avendano said that while working for Uber from Feb. 2014 to June 2017, she experienced a "male-dominated work culture, permeated with degrading, marginalizing, discriminatory, and sexually harassing conduct toward women."

Avendano said men would openly discuss who they wanted to have sex with and share explicit content in instant messaging, while some made inappropriate comments about her appearance.

But she said Uber displayed an "entrenched disregard" for female employees, including by ignoring one incident at a Las Vegas retreat when a drunken male colleague inappropriately touched her on the thigh.

Avendano said Uber retaliated against her for complaining by denying promotions and pay raises, giving her low performance reviews and subjecting her to a tough work schedule. She said her health worsened, leading to her resignation.

"For years, she wanted to help make Uber a safe and just place to work for herself and other female employees," Avendano's lawyer Jennifer Schwartz, a partner at Outten & Golden, said in a statement.

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