STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Former employee sues Uber for sexual harassment, discrimination

A former Uber software engineer is suing the company over claims that she experienced sexual harassment, racial discr...

Posted: May 22, 2018 8:47 AM
Updated: May 22, 2018 8:47 AM

A former Uber software engineer is suing the company over claims that she experienced sexual harassment, racial discrimination and pay inequity while working there.

Ingrid Avenda-o, who worked for Uber from February 2014 to June 2017, filed her lawsuit Monday in California Superior Court. It comes a week after Uber said it would eliminate its forced arbitration policy for survivors of sexual assault and harassment, whether they're riders, drivers or employees. That decision came after a CNN investigation into sexual assaults and abuse by Uber drivers.

Among the claims in Avenda-o's lawsuit: Uber did not do enough to address allegations of harassment. For example, she said that an engineer "repeatedly made unwelcome, demeaning comments about women" in front of her and other employees - and that human resources did nothing when she reported him.

Months later, Avenda-o discovered that the same employee told her coworkers that the only reason she had a job was "because she slept with someone at the company," according to the complaint. She complained again, and the man was fired.

The lawsuit says that Avenda-o faced fallout afterward, and was "isolated and ignored by many male Uber managers and other employees" who had worked with the man.

She also claimed that she was inappropriately touched by a senior software engineer, and that she witnessed other employees who made inappropriate comments and shared sexually explicit content at work.

Avenda-o says she endured emotional and physical stress, and was hospitalized as a result of her experience. She eventually resigned "because Uber's failure to take effective remedial measures threatened Avenda-o's already compromised emotional and physical health."

She's asking in the lawsuit to be compensated for lost wages and benefits, and for damages related to emotional distress. She wants to be reinstated to her job at Uber.

Avenda-o also wants Uber to be ordered to provide equal employment opportunities and "eradicate the effects of their past and present unlawful employment practices."

This is not Avenda-o's first legal action against Uber. Last year, she was one of three plaintiffs who sued Uber for wage discrimination. In March, Uber proposed a $10 million settlement, but she did not participate. The new legal claims are separate from that pending settlement.

Uber said in a statement Monday that the company is "moving in a new direction," and referenced the changes to arbitration, as well as its announcement that it will no longer require confidentiality as a condition of settlement in sexual harassment or assault claims.

A spokesperson added that "in the past year we have implemented a new salary and equity structure based on the market, overhauled our performance review process, published Diversity & Inclusion reports, and created and delivered diversity and leadership trainings to thousands of employees globally."

Related: After CNN report, lawmakers want answers from Uber, Lyft on sexual assaults

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has enacted many new policies since joining Uber in August 2017. His tenure started after Avenda-o left the company.

Khosrowshahi took the helm after founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to resign last year. The media firestorm that led to his ouster began after a former engineer, Susan Fowler, blogged about allegations of sexism and harassment at Uber. Fowler's February 2017 blog post forced the company to open an "urgent investigation" into its work culture.

According to Avenda-o's complaint, though, Uber wasn't taking the concerns outlined in Fowler's blog post seriously enough.

Avenda-o, who is Latina, also made claims of pay inequity in her lawsuit, and said that female and non-Caucasian engineers were paid less and promoted less than white male counterparts.

The company has said it has resolved such issues. In July 2017, it adjusted pay to ensure gender and racial equity.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117215

Reported Deaths: 4305
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles572192448
Riverside8155342
San Diego7554269
Orange6574150
San Bernardino5501208
Alameda351597
Santa Clara2819143
San Francisco258743
Kern237639
San Mateo218884
Tulare200489
Fresno188236
Imperial179829
Santa Barbara166912
Contra Costa150637
Sacramento143958
Ventura116434
Kings11375
San Joaquin98235
Stanislaus75029
Monterey57110
Sonoma5664
Solano54622
Marin50115
Merced3017
San Luis Obispo2781
Placer2289
Santa Cruz2172
Yolo21324
Madera1143
Napa1133
Humboldt1023
El Dorado960
San Benito882
Butte511
Sutter462
Del Norte460
Nevada421
Shasta394
Mono371
Mendocino300
Yuba301
Lake260
Inyo201
Glenn170
Mariposa161
Calaveras150
Amador100
Siskiyou80
Colusa70
Lassen50
Tehama51
Plumas40
Tuolumne40
Alpine20
Sierra10
Trinity10
Unassigned00
Chico
Broken Clouds
97° wxIcon
Hi: 100° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 97°
Oroville
Clear
98° wxIcon
Hi: 101° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 98°
Paradise
Broken Clouds
97° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 97°
Chester
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 85°
Red Bluff
Clear
98° wxIcon
Hi: 100° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 98°
Willows
Broken Clouds
97° wxIcon
Hi: 103° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 97°
The Heat Advisory will stay in place through Thursday evening. Cooler temperatures and the potential for showers and thunderstorms are ahead for your weekend.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events