Uber has agreed to pay more than $4 million after it was found to have permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation at its workplace by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the government agency announced Wednesday.
The ride-share and tech industry giant will establish a fund of $4.4 million to compensate anyone who the EEOC determines experienced sexual harassment, retaliation or both after Jan. 1, 2014.
"This agreement will hopefully empower women in technology to speak up against sexism in the workplace knowing that their voices can yield meaningful change," Ami Sanghvi, an EEOC attorney who advised on the investigation, said in a statement.
The company will also create a new system for identifying employees who have been the subject of more than one harassment complaint, and for identifying managers who did not respond to the harassment concerns in a timely manner, the EEOC said.
Moreover, Uber will update its policies with the help of a third-party consultant and be monitored for a period of three years by former EEOC Commissioner Fred Alvarez.
"This agreement holds Uber accountable, and, going forward, positions the company to innovate and transform the tech industry by modeling effective measures against sexual harassment and retaliation," EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic said in a statement.
Lipnic also initiated the commissioner’s charge in 2017 after rampant reports of sexual harassment emerged at Uber.
The settlement agreement was reached out of court, and entered voluntarily by Uber, the agency added.
Uber’s chief legal officer Tony West said they have "worked hard to ensure that all employees can thrive at Uber by putting fairness and accountability at the heart of who we are and what we do."
"I am extremely pleased that we were able to work jointly with the EEOC in continuing to strengthen these efforts," he added.
A claims administrator will be reaching out to female employees who worked at Uber at any time between Jan. 1, 2014, and June 30, 2019, to determine if they are eligible to receive compensation from the fund.
EEOC's San Francisco district director William Tamayo added that employers should "take note of Uber's commitment to holding management accountable and identifying repeat offenders" so that "superstar harassers are not allowed to continue their behavior."
"The tech industry, among others, has often ignored allegations of sexual harassment when an accused harasser is seen as more valuable to the company than the accuser," he added.
In 2017, a former Uber employee wrote in a blog post that a manager of hers at the San Francisco tech company sexually harassed her and that no action was taken when she went to human resources.
"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," the employee wrote at the time. Her claims spurred a massive investigation at Uber.