Following Tuesday's bloodletting at Uber in the wake of a company-wide probe into hundreds of claims of sexual harassment in which at least 20 employees were terminated Recode has learned that a high-level executive has additionally been fired over claims that he obtained, shared, and carried around with him the private medical records of an Uber customer in India who was sexually assaulted. According to Recode, Eric Alexander, the president of Uber's Asian-Pacific business, was terminated not directly as a part of the harassment probe, but subsequent to Recode's own questioning about his employment status.
Sources within the company tell Recode that Alexander had openly shared the assault victim's medical records with multiple people in the company, including Travis Kalanick himself, and this had all been with a view toward discrediting the rape story. It seems that after the incident was reported in December 2014, Alexander either on his own or directed by someone else in the company conducted an investigation of his own in New Dehli and somehow obtained the woman's medical records. The thought was, allegedly, that this could be a case of sabotage by Indian ride-hailing competitor Ola, and the entire incident staged to create bad publicity for Uber. However, the accused Uber driver was subsequently found to be facing four other criminal charges and was sentenced to life in this assault, with Uber India president Amit Jain publicly praising the verdict and pledging stricter background checks for drivers.
Still, the incident was a dark stain on Uber's reputation in India, and perhaps more broadly in Asia. Police in New Delhi briefly considered criminal charges against the company because of its background-check failure in this case, and Uber was banned from operating in the city for about six months, until June 2015.
The New York Times confirms the story, and says, "The episode is another example of what has been described as a toxic, aggressive environment at Uber that current and former employees say goes to the very top ranks of the company."
It's alleged that Alexander obtained the 26-year-old victim's medical records and shared them with both Kalanick and and Senior Vice President Emil Michael, and it wasn't until a year later, when another employee reported on the situation to the company's HR or legal department that other executives "obtained the report and destroyed [Alexander's] copy," according to Recode's sources.
Says one executive to Recode, "Travis never should have looked at the report and he should have fired him immediately."
The case, which was apparently one of 215 being investigated by the law firms Perkins Coie and Covington & Burling, was not apparently one of the 20 or so that reportedly ended in firing on Tuesday, but by late Tuesday or early Wednesday, it was.
As we learned yesterday, 100 of the cases concluded with no action by the company, and 57 remain under investigation.