Uber sued for pay inequality, sexual harassment, discrimination

On May 15, Uber announced that victims of sexual misconduct have the opportunity to take the company to court. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

On May 15, Uber announced that victims of sexual misconduct have the opportunity to take the company to court. (Sergio Perez/Reuters)

A software engineer who formerly worked for Uber is suing the company over sexual harassment, racial discrimination and pay inequality in Uber’s first lawsuit after the elimination of their arbitration policy.

Ingrid Avendaño, an American Latinx engineer who worked for the ride-sharing company in California from February 2014 to February 2017, filed a lawsuit with the state’s supreme court on Monday, according to CNN.

The lawsuit will be the company’s first legal dispute after the company’s May 15 announcement to introduce new legal policies regarding sexual misconduct, according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to the New York Times, Avendaño claims that she had filed reports and human resources had failed to take action. In one incident, Avendaño told human resources that a co-worker repeatedly told her that Uber was the “type of company where women can sleep their way to the top.” In separate incidences, male coworkers made lewd comments about her body and one colleague even inappropriately touched her.

Avendaño quit her position at the company ““because Uber’s failure to take effective remedial measures threatened Avendaño’s already compromised emotional and physical health”.

In addition to the sexual misconduct allegations, Avendaño claimed that Uber paid “female and non-Caucasian” engineers unequally and that “white male counterparts” often had more opportunities to move up in the company, CNN reported.

On May 15, Uber announced that victims of sexual misconduct have the opportunity to take the company to court following prior restrictions that only allowed for sexual assault allegations to be settled through private arbitration.

“We will no longer require mandatory arbitration for individual claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by Uber riders, drivers or employees,” the company said, “Together, we can make meaningful progress towards ending sexual violence. Our commitment to you is that when we say we stand for safety, we mean it.”

The new policy came after a CNN investigation revealing that there were 103 unique sexual assault abuse allegations against its drivers.

Avendaño has sued the company before. In October 2017, the software engineer along with two other plaintiffs filed a suit for unequal pay, according to CNN. Avendaño eventually pulled out of the lawsuit, but the company gave a $10-million settlement to those affected. In July 2017, the company created new policies, making it a standard for all employees to receive equal pay regardless of their background.

Arielle Schwartz

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