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Uber Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Race, Gender Bias

The three engineers allege Uber's employee ranking system discriminates against women and minorities, leading to unequal compensation.
Image: Security guard at Uber headquarters
A private security guard stands in front of Uber headquarters on June 13, 2017 in San Francisco.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

Three female engineers are suing Uber over allegations of racial and gender discrimination, marking the latest blow to the company as it seeks to overcome controversies about its workplace culture.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday at the Superior Court in San Francisco, follows a widely read blog post in February from another female engineer who described Uber's work environment as one that tolerated and fostered sexual harassment.

The lawsuit filed by Ingrid Avendano, Roxana del Toro Lopez and Ana Medina, who described themselves as Latina software engineers, says that Uber's compensation and other practices discriminate against women and people of color. As a result, the three women have lost out on earnings, promotions and benefits, the lawsuit says.

Related: Uber Board Votes to Change the Company's Power Structure

Avendano and Toro Lopez left Uber this summer after more than two years with the company. Medina is still employed there, according to the lawsuit.

Uber spokesman Matthew Wing declined to comment.

The lawsuit describes an employee ranking system that is "not based on valid and reliable performance measures" and favors men and white or Asian employees. Women, Latino, American Indian and African American employees are given lower performance scores, making it more difficult for them to advance professionally and confining them to more menial tasks, according to the lawsuit.

"In this system, female employees and employees of color are systematically undervalued compared to their male and white or Asian American peers," the lawsuit says.

Women, black and Latino employees also lose out on pay raises, bonuses, stock options, benefits and other wages because of the company's discriminatory practices, the lawsuit alleges.

"These three engineers are seeking to ensure that Uber pays women and people of color equally for the hard work they've done – and will continue to do – to help make Uber successful," said lawyer Jahan Sagafi of Outten & Golden, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Outten & Golden have also represented employees in gender discrimination lawsuits against Goldman Sachs and Microsoft Corp .

Avendano and Toro Lopez brought their complaints to the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency this summer, an administrative step that precedes a public lawsuit.

In August, Uber made a series of changes to address pay equity, including increasing pay of employees who were paid below the median salary for their job and providing an annual 2.5 percent raise.