Following Uber’s report of nearly 6000 reported cases of sexual assault, the ride hauling company has agreed to a $4.4m settlement with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over sexual discrimination charges.
Uber has been at the centre of intense scrutiny over allegations of sexual misconduct and its careless handling of such instances, alongside safety concerns related to its ride-hailing platform.
Earlier in December, the ride-hauling company released a safety report revealing disturbing figures. The report revealed that between 2017 and 2018, the company received 5981 reports on sexual assault, among which 464 cases were rape.
The investigation leading to the huge fine follows a sexual discrimination charge in 2017 which “found reasonable cause to believe that Uber permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment,” the release said. The company had a policy that compelled individuals with sexual assault complaints to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Uber ultimately discarded this policy at the heat of the matter in 2018.
The fine will be used as compensation to every victim who experienced sexual harassment or retaliation after January 1, 2014.
As part of the settlement, Uber said it will strengthen its business culture relating to sexual misconduct and retaliation. It will create a system that will identify culprits who have been subject more than one case of sexual misconduct and managers who ignore reports on harassment. It also agreed that an external regulator will monitor the company for three years.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure that all employees can thrive at Uber by putting fairness and accountability at the heart of who we are and what we do. I am extremely pleased that we were able to work jointly with the EEOC in continuing to strengthen these efforts,” Uber’s Chief Legal Officer Tony West said in the EEOC’s release. The company declined to make further comments.
The probe into Uber practices came to light after a report by Wall Street Journal revealing the company’s hiring practices, wages, among other gender-related issues which began quietly in 2017. The company said it has now taken measures to address gender equality and equity structure.