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How Uber Got Into This Human Resources Mess

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help lead an investigation into claims of sexual harassment and pervasive sexism leveled against the car-hailing company by former engineer Susan Fowler, whose explosive blog post hit the Silicon Valley startup like a tsunami earlier this week.

“As most of you know, I left Uber in December and joined Stripe in January. I’ve gotten a lot of questions over the past couple of months about why I left and what my time at Uber was like,” Fowler wrote at the start of her very detailed recounting of what can only be described as an organization in chaos. “It’s a strange, fascinating, and slightly horrifying story that deserves to be told while it is still fresh in my mind, so here we go.”

Strange, fascinating and horrifying indeed, from Fowler’s gripping telling. In response to Fowler’s essay, Kalanick wrote that it was the first he’d heard about these claims, which are numerous and detailed. Her account even includes a truly bizarre example of Uber denying women engineers leather jackets that the male techies got since there were too few female hires to bulk-order.

But most of her allegations are much more serious and problematic. For example, Fowler wrote that she and a number of other female engineers had reported her manager for propositioning them. She was told he wasn’t penalized because he was a “high performer.”

“It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being ‘his first offense’, and it certainly wasn’t his last,” Fowler 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…

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