After sexual harassment investigation, Uber fires more than 20 employees

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Uber has made a big move in its efforts to improve its workplace culture.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant has fired more than 20 people following a sexual harassment investigation, Bloomberg reported, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter.

The firings stem from an investigation by Perkins Coie, an international law firm that often works with startups and Fortune 500 companies. The firm had investigated 215 human resources-related problems within the company. These included cases of sexual harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination.

It took no action on 100 of these cases and is still investigating 57 other cases. It has decided on more than 20 terminations, according to Bloomberg, while 31 employees are in counseling and seven received written warnings.

Susan Fowler Rigetti, the former Uber engineer who became a whistleblower on the company’s previously-only-whispered-about sexual harassment problems, tweeted shortly after news of the firings leaked.

Fowler, who now works at Stripe, called out Uber board member Arianna Huffington and Uber’s Chief of Human Resources Liane Hornsey’s repeated denials of “systemic” sexual harassment problems within the company.

“Yes, there were some bad apples, unquestionably. But this is not a systemic problem,” Huffington had told CNN.

Uber conducted its own listening sessions with employees and Uber’s HR chief said she didn’t find issues with sexual harassment “at all.”

Bobbie Wilson, an attorney at the firm, presented the sexual harassment findings Tuesday, when Uber holds its weekly all-hands meetings, Bloomberg reported.

For some at Uber, the firings were a cause for celebration. Melanie Ensign, whose title on LinkedIn is listed as head of security and privacy communications, expressed her enthusiasm in a since-deleted tweet.

This is only the first report of what could be more bad or good, depending on your point of view news to come. Former attorney general Eric Holder is leading a separate investigation into the company, whose results have yet to be publicly released. Holder’s report is expected to not only investigate Fowler’s claims but “diversity and inclusion at Uber more broadly,” according to an email sent by CEO Travis Kalanick in February.

This isn’t the first major departures from Uber even since Fowler’s blog post in February. Uber’s SVP of engineering Amit Singhal resigned shortly thereafter, when reports surfaced that he left his previous job at Google due to sexual harassment allegations.

Uber has made some other changes in the name of improving the workplace environment. In March, it released its first-ever diversity report. Earlier this year, Uber recruited Frances Frei, a professor at Harvard Business School, to consult on its management issues. On Monday, Uber announced Frei would join the company full-time as its first SVP of leadership and strategy.

This post was updated to clarify that not all of Tuesday’s terminations were due to sexual harassment cases.

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