Employers in New Jersey and around the country can be held accountable by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission when they fail to address discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The EEOC launched an investigation when several workers at the ride-sharing company Uber complained about sexual harassment and retaliation, and the agency reported on Dec. 18 that the complaints appear to be legitimate.
The EEOC says that it has reasonable cause to determine that Uber tolerated a culture of sexual harassment and retaliated against workers who complained. The California-based ride-sharing company has agreed to pay $4.4 million to settle the matter. An Uber representative said that the company was pleased to work with the EEOC and has replaced its CEO and changed its workplace culture since the events investigated by the agency took place. Initial reports do not reveal how many Uber workers are expected to be compensated.
Uber has also agreed to put procedures into place to ensure that managers who do not respond to sexual harassment issues or have been accused of sexual harassment on more than one occasion are dealt with. The EEOC will monitor these programs for the next three years. The EEOC will send notices to all of the women who worked for Uber between January 2014 and June 2019. The money will be distributed once the employees who were exposed to workplace harassment have been identified.
Holding employers accountable for allowing toxic environments to flourish is less challenging when employees can provide evidence of workplace discrimination. When workers can produce photographs of inappropriate items in the workplace, copies of lewd or suggestive communications and detailed accounts of incidents that include the names of witnesses, attorneys with experience in this area might urge employers to avoid potentially embarrassing litigation by settling harassment complaints at the negotiating table.