Uber to Pay $4.4 Million to Resolve EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Charge


Blog# 12182019EEOC

Heidi Macomber reads 12/18/19 EEOC notice re Uber to Pay $4.4 Million to Resolve EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Charge including notes on sexual harassment and retaliation

Today’s post is about a company that worked with the EEOC on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Employer Accountability after an extensive investigation by the EEOC on charges of sex discrimination and harassment. The following is a word for word reading of the 12/18/19 EEOC post as well as notes on Sexual Harassment and Retaliation.

Agency Commends Employer for Working Cooperatively With the EEOC on Harassment Prevention and Accountability

SAN FRANCISCO – Uber Technologies, Inc. has entered into a nationwide agreement to strengthen its business culture against sexual harassment and retaliation, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

This settlement resolves a 2017 EEOC Commissioner’s Charge of sex discrimination, ending an extensive investigation in which the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that Uber permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment, in violation Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The pre-litigation agreement was voluntarily entered into by Uber and obtained through the EEOC’s conciliation process.

Uber will establish a class fund of $4.4 million to compensate anyone who the EEOC determines experienced sexual harassment and/or related retaliation after January 1, 2014. In addition, the company has agreed to create a system for identifying employees who have been the subject of more than one harassment complaint and for identifying managers who fail to respond to concerns of sexual harassment in a timely manner. It will also update its policies with input from a third-party consultant and continue conducting climate surveys and exit interviews with specific attention to workplace sexual harassment and retaliation. Uber has agreed to be monitored for 3 years by an outside party, former EEOC Commissioner Fred Alvarez.

 “This resolution demonstrates the benefits of working cooperatively with EEOC and serves as a model for businesses committed to truly leveling the playing field where opportunity is not circumscribed by one’s gender,” said EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon.

EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic, co-chair of the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace who also initiated the Commissioner’s charge after widespread publicity in 2017 concerning the treatment of female employees at Uber, said, “This agreement holds Uber accountable, and, going forward, positions the company to innovate and transform the tech industry by modeling effective measures against sexual harassment and retaliation.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director William Tamayo added, “In particular, employers should take note of Uber’s commitment to holding management accountable and identifying repeat offenders so that high-performing, superstar harassers are not allowed to continue their behavior. The tech industry, among others, has often ignored allegations of sexual harassment when an accused harasser is seen as more valuable to the company than the accuser.”

EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Ami Sanghvi, who advised on the investigation, added, “This agreement will hopefully empower women in technology to speak up against sexism in the workplace knowing that their voices can yield meaningful change.”

Uber’s Chief Legal Officer Tony West said, “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.”

A claims administrator will be sending notices to all female employees who worked at Uber at any time between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2019. Potential claimants will be able to submit a response to a questionnaire that will allow the EEOC to determine whether they may be eligible for monetary relief.  For information about the claims process, contact Senior Federal Investigator responsible for investigating the Commissioner’s Charge, Malinda Tuazon at malinda.tuazon@eeoc.gov or (415) 522-3126.

According to www.uber.com, Uber Technologies, Inc. is a San Francisco-based American multinational technology company.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

Sexual Harassment Notes

Employer Coverage – 15 or more employees

Time Limits

Section 703(a)(1) of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) provides:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer – –

… to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms conditions or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin[.]

In 1980 the Commission issued guidelines declaring sexual harassment a violation of Section 703 of Title VII, establishing criteria for determining when unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment, defining the circumstances under which an employer may be held liable, and suggesting affirmative steps an employer should take to prevent sexual harassment. See Section 1604.11 of the Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Sex, 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11 (“Guidelines”). The Commission has applied the Guidelines in its enforcement litigation, and many lower courts have relied on the Guidelines.

The issue of whether sexual harassment violates Title VII reached the Supreme Court in 1986 in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 106 S. Ct. 2399, 40 EPD ¶ 36,159 (1986). The Court affirmed the basic premises of the Guidelines as well as the Commission’s definition. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on the following issues in light of the developing law after Vinson:

  • determining whether sexual conduct is “unwelcome”;
  • evaluating evidence of harassment;
  • determining whether a work environment is sexually “hostile”;
  • holding employers liable for sexual harassment by supervisors; and
  • evaluating preventive and remedial action taken in response to claims of sexual harassment.

Retaliation Notes

Employer Coverage

  • 15 or more employees under Title VII and ADA
  • 20 or more employees under ADEA
  • Virtually all employers under EPA

Time Limits

Resources

Facts About Retaliation

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Facts About Sexual Harassment

Regulations: 29 C.F.R. Part 1604.11

Policy Guidance on Current Issues of Sexual Harassment

Enforcement Guidance: Vicarious Employer Liability for Unlawful Harassment by Supervisors

See also: Questions & Answers for Small Employers on Employer Liability for Harassment by Supervisors


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