The first half of 2017 hasn’t exactly been kind to Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick, from a video showing the executive arguing with a driver, the #deleteuber social media campaign tied to a proposed government travel ban, and a top-secret algorithm to avoid the law. Uber’s awful year kicked into overdrive this week amid multiple reports of bad behavior and renewed calls for Kalanick’s ouster.
Several reports have surfaced this week related to the behavior of those leading the company, including one report that executives accessed the medical records of a passenger who was raped by a driver in India and allegations that the ride-hailing company used a system to pay new hires less.
Here are 4 reasons why Uber isn’t having a great week:
1. Medical Records
Recode reports that an Uber executive who allegedly accessed and carried around the personal medical records of a passenger who accused a driver of rape for nearly a year is no longer with the company.
A spokesperson for Uber confirmed to Recode that president of business in the Asia Pacific, Eric Alexander, is no longer employed at Uber.
While the company declined to provide further details on the reason for Alexander’s departure, sources close to the matter tell Recode it stems from his handling of an assault case in India.
Back in Dec. 2014, a passenger in New Delhi, India claimed that her Uber driver raped and assaulted her.
The incident, in which the man was arrested and sentenced to life in prison, was condemned by the ride hailing company, but sources tell Recode that some within the organization had their doubts about the situation.
This apparently led Alexander to seek out the medical records of the passenger, according to sources. Recode notes that it is unclear if the records were obtained legally or with the knowledge of other Uber executives.
Once Alexander had the records, however, the sources claim he showed them to CEO Kalanick and senior vice president Emil Michael.
While none of the three men have medical training, Recode reports that shortly after seeing the records they began entertaining the idea that Uber competitor Ola had orchestrated the assault, a scenario that sources say many others at Uber found horrifying.
Alexander reportedly carried the documents around with him for nearly a year before they were supposedly destroyed by Uber’s legal department.
Consumerist has reached out to Uber for additional information on Alexander’s departure. We’ll update this post if we hear back.
In the meantime, lawyers representing the victim in the India assault case denounced any speculation that her rape was part of a conspiracy.
“It is incredible in this day and age that one could even fathom that a legitimate rape victim was part of a conspiracy by a rival firm to harm Uber,” the lawyers said in a statement Thursday. “Sadly, these views, coupled with the scrutiny of private medical records, support rape culture and must end. Given the media reports, it is our sincere hope that Messrs. Kalanick and Alexander will promptly be issuing an apology to our former client.”
2. More Dismissals
The incident in India not only put the company under scrutiny in that country, but internally as well.
On Tuesday, the company’s ongoing investigation in harassment, sexism, and mismanagement led to the firing of 20 employees, Bloomberg reports.
In all, law firm Perkins Coie reviewed 215 human-resources claims, of which Uber had not taken action in 100 cases.
A source close to the matter tells Bloomberg that Coie provided an update on the investigation to Uber employees on Tuesday, noting that most of those who were ousted from the company were executives. Uber confirmed to Bloomberg that 31 other employees are now in training or counseling, while seven have recevied written warnings related to their behavior, which included allegations of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and other HR matters.
3. Widening The Gender Pay Gap
While drivers have long taken issue with the way they are paid by Uber, even suing the company for taking more than they are supposed to, a new report from The Information (subscription required) suggest that the ride-hailing venture uses an algorithm to keep pay low for new employees.
CNBC reports that the algorithm, which was indeed to optimize compensation for new hires, reinforced gender pay gaps and created uneven pay for those doing similar work.
Additionally, according to the Information’s report, nearly half of the new hires in 2016 took a pay cut when they joined the company.
The algorithm is now being altered, but it is unclear how that will affect those already with the company.
4. Lactation Not Meditation
Sure meditation can be a calming, relaxing exercise for many people, CEOs included. So perhaps it’s a good thing that Uber CEO Kalanick has taken up the practice, given his declaration that he needed to “grow up” following a very publicized recorded alteration with a driver by meditating.
But what’s not a good thing about the new-found zen, is that it’s allegedly taking place in the company’s lactation rooms.
CNBC reports that Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington revealed Kalanick’s meditation ways during the iCONIC conference in New York City Wednesday.
“Literally, it was an amazing moment last week when we were in the office and he said, ‘I really need to go meditate in order to be in a place to make good decisions right now,’” Huffington recalled, as reported by CNBC. “And literally [he] went into a lactation room that happened to be open, because they don’t have meditation rooms yet. This is part of the change coming.”
Each of these issues have led to renewed calls for Uber CEO Kalanick to step down, with some noting that the culture at the company won’t change until he is no longer in the lead.