June 14, 2017
As an employment attorney and litigator, I have found this story interesting to follow. Following a former employee's critical blog post accusing Uber of sexual harassment and gender bias, Uber's Board hired Eric Holder and his law partner at the law firm of Covington & Burling, LLP to conduct an investigation of the work place environment. According to Uber’s Statement of Tuesday, June 13, the Board adopted Covington's recommendations (published here). Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced on Tuesday that he was taking a leave of absence to reflect on changes needed in the leadership team.
The recommendations include the following action items, among others:
- Changes to the organization and professional development efforts of senior leadership;
- Enhanced board oversight;
- Implementation of internal controls, including document management, record-keeping, and auditing;
- Reformulation of culture values, calling for elimination of redundant values or ones that are used to justify poor behavior, such as “Always be Hustlin’”;
- Training for senior management, HR, any other managers;
- Improvements to HR Practices and Procedures, including the Complaint Process (including devoting adequate staff and resources to HR);
- Enhancing diversity and inclusion by taking a range of actions such as regularly publishing diversity statistics; following the “Rooney Rule” in forming candidate pools for key positions, supporting and rewarding diversity efforts, and utilizing blind resume review;
- Changes to employee policies and practices, including revisions to the EEO policy, prohibition of romantic relationships between employees in a reporting relationship, and moving the employee catered dinner to an earlier time for employees with families at home; and
- Audit and review of pay practices for compliance with equal pay laws and to ensure pay is set for legitimate business reasons.
These recommendations would be of particular interest to companies in various positions, from those who experience rapid growth to those who are simply taking a fresh look at their workplace environment, policies, and practices. Devoting resources to HR and working closely with counsel as your company changes and grows is an investment in the healthy growth of your company over time. At times, an internal investigation of workplace practices led by trusted employment counsel is a wise first step in evaluating these issues.
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