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Uber Settles Race & Gender Bias Suit for $10 Million

Mar 27, 2018 / Media Coverage / Courthouse News — Nicholas Iovina

Ride-hail giant Uber has agreed to pay $10 million and roll out a series of workplace reforms to settle claims it systematically underpays female and racial minority software engineers.

Former software engineer Roxana del Toro Lopez sued Uber in October 2017, claiming the company’s “stack ranking” system allowed supervisors to rank employees from best to worst with no valid or reliable performance measures.

“In this system, female employees are systematically undervalued compared to their male peers because female employees receive, on average, lower rankings despite equal or better performance,” del Toro Lopez said in her initial 12-page complaint.

On Monday night, del Toro Lopez filed an amended complaint, claiming employees of color were also undervalued compared to their white and Asian counterparts.

Uber simultaneously agreed to pay $10 million to approximately 420 women and people of color who worked as software engineers from July 31, 2013. The preliminary deal must be approved by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland.

The $10 million includes $80,000 in awards for del Toro Lopez and another named plaintiff, $170,000 in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ costs, and up to a 30 percent award for class attorneys’ fees. It also includes $110,000 in settlement administration costs and a $50,000 allocation, 75 percent of which will go to California’s labor watchdog pursuant to the California Private Attorney General’s Act.

Under the deal, Uber will also require diversity and bias training for managers, develop performance standards for each job position, create a standardized performance review process, monitor salaries and promotions for impacts on race and gender, and provide mentoring services to female and racial-minority workers.

“This settlement involves claims dating back to July 2013 and, while we are continually improving as a company, we have proactively made a lot of changes since then,” Uber said in a statement. “In the past year alone we have implemented a new salary and equity structure based on the market, overhauled our performance review process, published our first diversity & inclusion report and created and delivered diversity and leadership trainings to thousands of employees globally.”

Class attorney Rachel Dempsey of Outten Golden in San Francisco did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday morning.

The settlement comes just more than a year after a female software engineer wrote a blog post about what she said was Uber’s failure to discipline a manager who sexually harassed her, leading other female workers to come forward about an allegedly toxic workplace culture for women at Uber.

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A hearing on preliminary approval of the $10 million deal to settle race and gender bias claims is scheduled for May 1.

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