Uber Executive Quits Amidst Racial Discrimination Probe

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 12, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Liane Hornsey, head of human resources at Uber, abruptly quit following an investigation about how she handled racial discrimination claims there.

According to reports, Hornsey dismissed internal complaints of racial discrimination and retaliated against whistleblowers at the company. Reuters, which broke the story, said it "raises questions about Uber's ability to reform its culture and change some of its toxic behaviours."

Although Uber cleaned house after widespread sexual harassment claims last year, it's hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel for the ride-sharing company.

Racial Discrimination

If there were a silver lining to the cloud around Hornsey, at least she is not Papa John. The pizza company's pitchman and chairman resigned after admitting he used a racial slur in a marketing "role-play."

Hornsey was an Uber spokeswoman on diversity and discrimination issues. She lived through the public relations disaster that followed reports of widespread gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the company.

In an email to employees, she said her resignation came "a little out of the blue for some of you, but I have been thinking about this for a while." She did not address the investigation.

However, an anonymous group of employees told Reuters that Hornsey "used discriminatory language and made derogatory comments" about Uber executives Bernard Coleman and Bozoma Saint John. The employees alleged Hornsey threatened Saint John, who left the company in June.

"Unbiased and Thorough"

At the time, Saint John said "nothing horrible or terrible happened." However, she said the corporate culture had not "righted itself 100 percent."

Coleman, who joined Uber in 2017, declined to comment. However, the anonymous employees said a law firm investigation substantiated some of their allegations.

Uber founder Travis Kalanick stepped down as CEO last year following a similar investigation into sexual harassment and gender discrimination claims.

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