Uber Is Cleaning House Ahead of Sexual Harassment Investigation

The results of Uber's "independent investigation" into harassment claims are coming to light.

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Jun 6 2017, 6:41pm

Flickr/Fortune Live Media

Uber has fired more than 20 unnamed employees following an investigation into workplace complaints that included sexual harassment and other violations, according to a Bloomberg source. Motherboard has independently confirmed this number.

Months after former Uber engineer Susan J. Fowler went public with her own sexual harassment allegations, the results of Uber's "independent review" are finally coming to light. Out of 215 complaints submitted to the company, no action was taken in 100 instances, reported Bloomberg. It's unclear how many of those firings were the result of sexual harassment, versus misconduct such as bullying or retaliation.

Announcing the investigation was Perkins Coie LLP attorney Bobbie Wilson, who briefed Uber's 12,000 employees at an all-hands today. Wilson is not a sexual harassment attorney, nor does she describe herself as specializing in labor disputes.

According to the law firm's webpage, Wilson is an expert "in the area of intellectual property. She focuses on patent, trade secrets, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and Section 230 litigation under the Communications Decency Act." Uber is notoriously protective of trade secrets, and has gone to great lengths to avoid sharing data that might compromise proprietary data.

This probe is separate from a broader investigation led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder, and Tammy Albarran, both partners at the law firm Covington & Burling—a firm that has extensively represented Uber in the past. In a February memo to staff, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said the team will be looking "into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber…"

The details of today's announcement are unknown. We don't know how the assessment was conducted, how truly independent it was, nor how empowered Uber staff felt in reporting sexual harassment claims.

Holder's recommendations are expected to be shared with Uber's board members this week.

Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that not all of the firings at Uber were a result of sexual harassment.