Uber Executive Resigns Following Racial Discrimination Probe

Chief People Officer Liane Hornsey was accused of systematically dismissing internal complaints of racial discrimination.


A senior official at Uber resigned on July 10 following an inquiry into how she handled allegations of racial discrimination at the ride-hailing app firm. Chief People Officer Liane Hornsey, who headed the human resources department at Uber, was accused by anonymous whistleblowers of systematically dismissing internal complaints of racial discrimination, Reuters reported.

Hornsey and Uber’s human resources department were accused by an anonymous group that claims to include employees of color at the organization, the report said. They said complaints lodged with the internal anonymous tip line at the company were either left unresolved or were dismissed, especially if they dealt with issues of race.

Among the allegations leveled against Hornsey were that she used discriminatory language and made derogatory comments about Bernard Coleman, Uber’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, and had denigrated and threatened former executive Bozoma Saint John, who left the company in June, according to the news agency.

Hornsey held the position for 18 months. The investigation into the charges against her was carried out by law firm Gibson Dunn, which substantiated some of the allegations made. A second investigation is also expected to begin following a complaint from another anonymous employee.

In an email to her colleagues, which was seen by Reuters, Hornsey said that her exit “comes a little out of the blue for some of you, but I have been thinking about this for a while.”

Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi praised her in an email to employees, which was also seen by Reuters, as “incredibly talented, creative, and hard-working.”

Neither Hornsey nor Khosrowshahi gave any reasons for her departure.

Uber told the news agency in a statement that a proper investigation was carried out into the complaints.

“We are confident that the investigation was conducted in an unbiased, thorough and credible manner, and that the conclusions of the investigation were addressed appropriately,” it said.

Khosrowshahi took over as Uber’s CEO in August last year from former CEO Travis Kalanick after the company was embroiled in a series of controversies. In March, the firm agreed to pay $10 million to settle a proposed lawsuit brought by three women engineers alleging discrimination against over 400 women and minorities.

In December last year, Uber and a woman from Texas, who accused the company executives of accessing her medical files after she sued the firm when a cab driver in India raped her in 2014, agreed to reach a settlement for an unknown amount.

The firm also issued an apology after facing criticism on the social media for being sexist in its promotional message sent to customers in Bengaluru last year. The message urged husbands to “let your wife take a day off from the kitchen” and offered a discount offer on Uber Eats food delivery service.

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