Three female engineers sued Uber for racial and gender discrimination, having recently filed for litigation with the California Superior Court, San Francisco County. Two of the plaintiffs used to work for the ride-hailing service provider and one of them still does, with their legal representatives pursuing damages under California’s Private Attorneys General Act which would let the state keep three quarters of any sum awarded to the engineers. The rest of the damages would be left to the plaintiffs themselves as a reward for bringing a case of public interest to the court's attention, the law mandates.
Uber is accused of operating against California's Equal Pay Act by implementing a "stack ranking" mechanic into its employee evaluation procedures, mandating managers to personally rate employees from best to worst, then using those valuations as a basis for promotions and pay raises, with the system itself being highly subjective and thus conducive to gender and racial discrimination, according to the lawsuit first uncovered by Bloomberg. The company itself hasn't commented on the matter in any official capacity as of this writing and usually doesn't issue statements on ongoing legal disputes with existing and former employees. Its employment contracts also contain provisions regarding workplace disputes which mandate all such scenarios are to be settled in arbitration, i.e. away from the public's eye. This particular case may still not end up in arbitration due to being filed under the aforementioned act that was specifically enacted for matters of public interest, hence preventing arbitration by design.
The plaintiffs claim that Uber's management practices systematic workplace discrimination by undervaluing "employees of color" and women who on average receive worse performance reviews and are hence less likely to receive promotions or pay raises. The development marks yet another issue for Uber that's currently embroiled in a high-profile legal battle with Alphabet's autonomous driving subsidiary Waymo over trade secret theft, in addition to pursuing litigation in London where its operating license renewal was denied in September. Co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick is presently also being sued for fraud by one of the company's largest investors, with all of the ongoing issues happening amid a major push by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank to invest up to $10 billion in the startup in exchange for a 20 percent stake in Uber, prompting more power struggles at the firm.