Monday 20 January 2020

The top five (recent) scandals which have engulfed Uber

Uber has fired more than 20 employees (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)
Uber has fired more than 20 employees (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Uber, the technology company which allows car-sharing by letting drivers operate a taxi service through its app, has had more than its fair share of bad publicity.

it is currently dealing with a number of scandals - with allegations ranging from sexual harassment to illegally operating - and has made quite the habit of garnering unwanted headlines.

Here, we look at five of the biggest issues it has faced in recent months alone:

One - Sexual harassment and bullying

Uber announced in recent days that it had fired 20 employees, from managers to lower level workers, after complaints of sexual harassment, bullying, and discrimination emerged in the organisation.

The scandal is in addition to former engineer Susan Fowler posting a blog about sexual harassment at the company. Fowler claims that on her first day of work at Uber she was propositioned by her boss.

In response to Fowler’s claims the company set up a hotline where employees could make complaints, and hired Perkins Coie to investigate said complaints.

To-date there have been at least 215 complaints made to the hotline, 57 of which remain under investigation.

Two - Slow to turn off ‘surge pricing’ in the aftermath of the London attacks

In the wake of last Saturday’s terror attack in London the company, which operates in over 500 cities worldwide, was criticised for being slow to switch off its “surge pricing feature.”

“Surge pricing” automatically kicks in when the demand for cars becomes greater than the number of cars available.

Many users turned to twitter in the wake of the increased prices to complain about the company, saying that the company should have reduced their prices immediately.

Read more: Uber fires 20 over ugly scandal. Will Silicon Valley’s rockstar CEO’s heed the warning signs?

Three - Accused of using a gap in EU and UK tax rules to avoid incurring and paying sales tax on booking charges

Uber is using a gap in EU and UK tax rules to avoid having to incur and pay sales tax on booking charges, according to reports from Reuters.

The taxi company is able to avoid the VAT as it treats each of its UK drivers as an individual small business, with each business too small to register for the VAT.

Four – Fined $11.4m for operating illegally in Pennsylvania

In March this year Uber reached a settlement of $11.4m with the Pennsylvania taxi regulator after it was accused of operating illegally.

Uber was found to have provided more than 120,000 rides in Pennsylvania before having received approval from the State to carry out the service.

Read more: Uber fires more than 20 employees after probe into sexual harassment and bullying

Five – State regulators in California in April recommended that the company be fined $1.13m for failing to promptly suspend drives accused of drunk driving

Earlier this year Uber was hit with a recommended fine of $1.13m after regulators in California charged the company with failing to promptly investigate and suspend drivers accused by passengers of drunk driving.

The matter relates to the period of August 2014 to August 2015.

A spokesperson for Uber said that the company has “significantly improved” their processes since then.

(Additional reporting from Press Association)

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