Business

Uber Is Target of Federal Sex Discrimination Inquiry

Posted July 16, 2018 4:40 p.m. EDT

SAN FRANCISCO — Federal officials are investigating allegations that Uber discriminated against women in hiring and pay, another federal inquiry into a company that has been rocked by scandals over its workplace culture and other issues.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which polices workforce discrimination, began investigating Uber in August, according to two people familiar with the inquiry who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss an active investigation.

The commission is examining whether Uber systematically paid women less than men and discriminated against women in the hiring process, among other matters, one of the people said. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the investigation.

The investigation shows how difficult it has been for Uber to move past its tumultuous 2017. The company faced numerous accusations of workplace sex discrimination and harassment in 2017, as well as allegations of illegal behavior by its executives, such as spying on and stealing secrets from rivals. The scandals forced out Uber’s co-founder and chief executive, Travis Kalanick. His successor, Dara Khosrowshahi, has pledged to reform the company.

Last week, The New York Times reported that Uber’s new chief operating officer, Barney Harford, a hand-picked deputy of Khosrowshahi’s, was under scrutiny for making racially insensitive comments. Also last week, Uber’s chief people officer, Liane Hornsey, resigned amid accusations that she improperly handled complaints of racial discrimination at the company.

MoMo Zhou, an Uber spokeswoman, said in an email that the ride-hailing company had made changes in the past 18 months, including new salary and equity rules based on the market, a new performance-review process, and diversity training for employees.

Other tech firms have faced federal inquiries into their hiring and pay practices. The Labor Department found a gender pay gap at Google, while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigated possible age discrimination at Google and Intel.