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Susan Fowler has hired a law firm as Uber investigates her claims of sexual harassment

Uber has also hired a second law firm in addition to Covington and Burling to help with the volume of the investigation.

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

Two weeks after Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, published allegations of sexual harassment and sexism at the company, both the ride-hail company and Fowler have lawyered up.

On Thursday, Fowler tweeted that she had hired law firm Baker Curtis & Schwartz — which specializes in employment law — after learning that Uber hired a second law firm to investigate her claims.

Uber, for its part, has tapped Perkins Coie to aid former Attorney General Eric Holder’s firm Covington and Burling in its efforts to look into individual claims of sexual harassment and workplace issues. Covington will be focusing on the larger company culture while Perkins will be handling individual cases.

"The law firm Perkins Coie is looking into the specific allegations raised by Susan,” an Uber spokesperson said. “They will report in to Eric Holder, who is responsible for the overall investigation into Uber's workplace practices. To be clear: They are investigating Susan's claims, not Susan personally."

The tweet came as a surprise to the company. Perkins Coie had already contacted Fowler’s law firm, according to the company.

It’s not clear what Fowler means when she says Uber has named or blamed her for the account deletions the company has seen in the wake of her making her allegations public. We reached out to Fowler and will update if we hear back. Uber is not filing any claims against her and has reiterated that it’s not behind the calls being made to Fowler’s childhood friends and others who know her.

As we previously reported, many of the issues Fowler complained of can be traced back to larger and more systemic problems with the ride-hail company’s human resources structure and priorities. For instance, much of the department’s focus was on recruiting and scaling the company rather than mitigating workplace issues.

That happened to the detriment of the company’s focus on diversity and inclusion. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was previously vehemently opposed to reporting any diversity statistics, sources told Recode, in spite of having a diversity and inclusion officer between 2015 and 2016. To Kalanick, racial and gender diversity weren’t useful metrics by which to measure the company.

Damien Hooper Campbell, who is now the chief diversity officer at eBay, left after just a year at the ride-hail behemoth. It’s not hard to understand why. Sources say Campbell was assigned typical HR tasks rather than being given the opportunity to meaningfully build out Uber’s diversity efforts.

Now, the company has hired Bernard Coleman III — who headed up that same department at the failed Hillary Clinton presidential campaign — to put together a new and innovative kind of diversity report in the aftermath of Fowler’s allegations.

Along with Coleman, Uber board member Arianna Huffington and the company’s new human resources lead Liane Hornsey will also be working to — as Huffington said in a statement — hold the company’s leadership accountable.


This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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