Uber HR Head Resigns Following Discrimination Allegations

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Written by Ann Brown

 

Liane Hornsey, Uber’s head of human resources, resigned in an email to staff the day after Reuters news agency contacted the ride-sharing company for comment about racial discrimination there.

The investigation was not reported until Reuters covered a story about accusations from anonymous whistleblowers who said that “Hornsey had systematically dismissed internal complaints of racial discrimination.”

Uber
FILE- This March 20, 2018, file photo shows the Uber app on an iPad in Baltimore. Uber’s chief human resources officer has abruptly stepped down. Liane Hornsey told employees in an email Wednesday, July 11, that she is leaving the company but gave no reason. The email was obtained by The Associated Press. Hornsey writes that employees may think the decision came out of the blue, but she has been thinking about leaving for a while. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

 

As head of Uber’s human resources department, Hornsey was one of Uber’s top spokeswomen on diversity and discrimination issues. But her honeymoon with the company didn’t last long. Just 18 months after she took the position, Uber must now address claims of widespread issues of gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

These allegations made many people wonder about CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s mission get rid of the toxic culture at the firm. He took over in August 2017 from former CEO Travis Kalanick after numerous scandals.

“An anonymous group that claims to be Uber employees of color, members of the group told Reuters. They alleged Hornsey had used discriminatory language and made derogatory comments about Uber Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Bernard Coleman, and had denigrated and threatened former Uber executive Bozoma Saint John, who left the company in June,” Reuters reported.

“This person ultimately was the reason behind (Saint John’s) departure from Uber,” the anonymous employees said in an email, referring to Hornsey.

Saint John joined Uber from Apple Inc in June 2017 but left only a year later to join Endeavor, the parent company of several talent agencies. She declined to comment, telling Reuters by phone: ‘I don’t have anything to say about my experience there.’”

In her email to Uber staff, Hornsey gave no reason for her resignation.

This isn’t the first time Uber has been hit with a discrimination scandal. Previously, Uber saw company-wide allegations of gender discrimination and sexual harassment that led to an investigation by former U.S Attorney General Eric Holder and ultimately to Kalanick’s resignation.

That investigation ended in March when Uber agreed to pay $10 million to settle a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination against more than 400 women and minorities brought by three women engineers. One of the women removed herself from the class-action and sued the company in May alleging discrimination based on gender and race, Reuters reported.

The latest allegations say that not much has changed at Uber. The company basically ignored a board-approved recommendation by Holder that the chief diversity officer report directly to the CEO or COO.

“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,” Uber said in a statement to Reuters.