Uber Launches ‘Urgent Investigation’ Into Sexual Harassment Claims Made by Former Employee

“What’s described here is abhorrent & against everything we believe in,” tweets CEO Travis Kalanick

Uber is conducting an “urgent investigation” into claims by a former employee who says she was sexually harassed while with company — and that Uber did nothing about it.

“What’s described here is abhorrent & against everything we believe in. Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick declared on Twitter while retweeting a post by Susan Fowler Rigetti, who linked to a blog post she wrote regarding her claims.

In an essay titled “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber,” Rigetti wrote about her time as a site reliability engineer back in November 2015. During her first day on the team, she said her new manager started sending her inappropriate messages.

“He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t,” she wrote. “He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. 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.”

Rigetti said she thought the company would handle the situation in a certain way but “things played out quite a bit differently.”

“I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to,” she explained. “Upper management told me that he ‘was a high performer’ (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.”

Rigetti claimed she was offered two options: “find another team and then never have to interact with this man again,” or “stay on the team” with the understanding that “he would most likely give me a poor performance review.”

Rigetti ended up leaving the team. Over the next few months, she met other women who said they experienced similar situations, in many cases with the same manager.

“It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being ‘his first offense,’ and it certainly wasn’t his last,” she wrote. “Within a few months, he was reported once again for inappropriate behavior, and those who reported him were told it was still his ‘first offense.’ The situation was escalated as far up the chain as it could be escalated, and still nothing was done.”

“Eventually he ‘left’ the company,” she added. “I don’t know what he did that finally convinced them to fire him.”

Rigetti claimed she tried to transfer to a “less chaotic” engineering operation, but her move was blocked by management who told her she “didn’t show any signs of an upward career trajectory.”

“It turned out that keeping me on the team made my manager look good, and I overheard him boasting to the rest of the team that even though the rest of the teams were losing their women engineers left and right, he still had some on his team,” Rigetti wrote.

On her last day at Uber, she wrote, she calculated that out of 150 people on the reliability engineering team, only 3 percent were women.

Uber has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.