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Uber’s CEO promises an ‘urgent investigation’ into a former employee’s sexual harassment claims

Travis Kalanick states the obvious: Sexual harassment is a fireable offense.

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014 - Day 1 Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

A former Uber employee wrote a blog post on Sunday, claiming that she was sexually harassed during her time working for the company and that Uber’s human resources department pretty much ignored her complaints.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick claims that he was unaware of the allegations, which were made by former engineer Susan Fowler, and vowed to investigate them.

Here’s the statement, released by Uber and attributed to Kalanick:

"I have just read Susan Fowler's blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It's the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”

Fowler was a site reliability engineer who joined Uber in late 2015. In her post, she claims that her manager sent her messages implying that he wanted to strike up a sexual relationship. After bringing the messages to HR, Fowler was told that her manager wouldn’t be punished because he was a “high performer.”

“Upper management told me that he ‘was a high performer’ (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn't feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part,” Fowler wrote. “I was then told that I had to make a choice: (i) I could either go and find another team and then never have to interact with this man again, or (ii) I could stay on the team, but I would have to understand that he would most likely give me a poor performance review when review time came around, and there was nothing they could do about that.”

Fowler ultimately left the team, but says that she later learned that other female employees had also reported about the same man; Uber HR had told Fowler that her complaint was the first they’d ever received for that employee.

“It was such a blatant lie that there was really nothing I could do,” she wrote.

It’s not clear who Fowler’s manager was, and she does not list him by name. She says that he is now out of the company.

Uber is, for now, pleading ignorance. But Kalanick’s statement means that at the very least the company thinks that Fowler’s claims may have merit. Tech Twitter has been busy passing along Fowler’s blog and offering messages of support. Uber investor Chris Sacca also tweeted his frustration with the company:

Update: Uber board member Arianna Huffington said in a tweet Sunday night that she plans to assist with the company’s investigation into Fowler’s claims.

This article originally appeared on

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