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Woman software engineer alleges harrowing sexual harassment at Uber

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. (Courtesy photo)

A former engineer at Uber wrote a blog post alleging rampant sexual discrimination at the ride-hail giant, which quickly went viral Sunday evening.

Berkeley-based Susan J. Fowler, who described her former position at Uber as a site reliability engineer, alleged she was barred from transferring project teams because she is a woman, was dismissed by Uber human resources when she complained a superior sexually harassed her, and was told by the company that some people of certain genders and ethnicities were “better suited for some jobs than others.”

Fowler left Uber in December and joined another tech company, Stripe, in January.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick took to Twitter to decry the alleged actions on Sunday evening.

In a tweet where he shared a link to Fowler’s blog, Kalanick wrote, “What’s described here is abhorrent & against everything we believe in. Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”

He also wrote he’s launched an “urgent investigation” into the incident, and there can be “absolutely no place” for that behavior at Uber. Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber’s board, wrote on Twitter that she would be involved in the investigation.

Fowler described the discrimination towards women as systemic, and wrote the department of Uber she worked for went from 25 percent women when she started to less than six percent during her time at the company.

“Things were beginning to get even more comically absurd with each passing day,” she wrote. “Every time a sexist email was sent, I’d sent a short report to (human resources) just to keep a record going.”

HR later rebuked her for keeping email records of the alleged sexist remarks, she alleged.

During her first day on a new team, she wrote, her new manager sent her a string of messages stating he was in an open relationship and he was having difficulties finding new sexual partners.

“It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR,” she wrote.

HR told her it was his first offense and he would not be punished. Later on, Fowler said she met many women who complained about the same man who were also told by HR that it was his first offense.

She was told to either change “teams” or accept a low performance review from that manager, she wrote.

Later, after reporting another incident to HR, she was told by a manager that she was on “thin ice” and may be fired for reporting him. She informed him that was illegal.

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