Uber has agreed to set aside $4.4 million to compensate women who were harassed or faced retaliation during their time at the company, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced on Wednesday.
Uber agreed to create the fund after an extensive EEOC investigation concluded this week that Uber had enabled and fostered a culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination over the course of several years.
The investigation and settlement strikes at the heart of one of Uber’s longest-standing issues, both internally and in the court of public opinion: whether it mistreats female employees, drivers and passengers. For years, Uber has struggled to shrug off intense criticism of its male-dominated workforce and concerns around whether it does enough to protect female riders from being sexually assaulted.
EEOC said it found “reasonable cause” to believe that Uber had permitted a culture of “sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment,” a violation of decades-old civil rights laws.
“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.
An administrator will contact female employees who worked at Uber between 2014 and 2019, offering them an opportunity to submit a claim and potentially receive compensation from the $4.4 million fund.
As part of the settlement, Uber has also agreed to create a system to identify employees who have faced multiple accusations of sexual harassment, and agreed to take action against mangers who do not respond to complaints “in a timely manner.”
Former EEOC Commissioner Fred Alvarez will monitor the company for three years to ensure its compliance with the agency’s demands.
Uber previously fired more than 20 employees after conducting an internal investigation into gender bias and harassment at the company, and opened itself up to an external review by former Attorney General Eric Holder, who made recommendations around how the company could update its policies.
The EEOC launched the investigation in 2017, just after former employee Susan Fowler published a viral blog post about her own experiences with harassment and discrimination at the company.