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Uber hires Eric Holder to investigate sexism allegations

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Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber is scrambling to repair its image after a former engineer published bombshell allegations of sexism within the company. Now, it has hired one of the nation’s most well-known attorneys to investigate the claims.

CEO Travis Kalanick sent a company-wide email on Monday, which addressed the allegations published the day before. He said Uber hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Tammy Albarran, both partners at law firm Covington & Burling, to probe the claims.

Uber sent a copy of the memo to CNNTech.

“[They] will conduct an independent review into the specific issues relating to the work place environment raised by Susan Fowler, as well as diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly,” Kalanick wrote. “Joining them will be Arianna Huffington, who sits on Uber’s board, Liane Hornsey, our recently hired Chief Human Resources Officer, and Angela Padilla, our Associate General Counsel.”

On Sunday, former engineer Susan Fowler published allegations of blatant and systemic sexism at the company. These include a supervisor propositioning her for sex, and the company’s human resources department ignoring multiple complaints about inappropriate behavior.

Kalanick said he opened an “urgent” investigation into the matter after she posted her story.

The CEO also told employees he plans to publish a diversity report. Uber is one of the largest tech companies that has not released statistics about the diversity of its employees. Kalanick said women make up 15.1% of Uber’s technology teams. (Google’s tech workforce, for comparison, is 18% women.)

Fowler’s story went viral in the last 24 hours, renewing calls to boycott the ride-hailing company. The allegations of sexism follow a wave of controversy surrounding Kalanick’s association with President Donald Trump. Earlier this month, Kalanick resigned from Trump’s business advisory council following a #deleteuber campaign.

Though Fowler’s allegations shocked many people, they serve as a reminder that the culture at tech companies is often sexist. Just last week, a former Magic Leap vice president filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the company. And according to a 2016 study, three out of five women who work in Silicon Valley say they have experienced unwanted sexual advances.

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