When employees are concerned that their working conditions may not be legal, they're often wise to discuss those concerns with a third-party lawyer. Someone who is uninvolved but with knowledge of labor and employment law can be very helpful in determining if the concerns are valid and what steps to take next.
Management has the same prerogative, and it's often a good idea for them, too. If employees have brought their concerns forward, management has a duty to perform a reasonable investigation. Just as important, expensive and time-consuming litigation can often be avoided if workers and management can find common ground.
Ride-sharing giant Uber has just received the results of an outside law firm's investigation into its personnel practices. Interestingly, the law firm was the one employing former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The investigation was initiated in response to a blog post by a female former engineer. She detailed a claim of sexual harassment and what she felt was a lack of appropriate response by management. Uber has been under pressure in various parts of its business, including facing employee concerns about pay and working conditions.
The company is also facing a criminal investigation into whether it used technology called "Greyball" to deceive regulators. Additionally, it is facing a suit from competitor Waymo, which claims Uber pilfered trade secrets from its self-driving car division.
Under the brash leadership of CEO Travis Kalanick, Uber has become the world's most valuable venture-capital backed private concern. Unfortunately, has also garnered a reputation for a rough-and-tumble approach to employment law and local regulations.
According to a Reuters source, the report ends a months-long investigation into various aspects of the company. Kalanick and his executives were found to have a rather amazing degree of autonomy for the CEO of a company with over 12,000 employees.
Uber's board unanimously voted to adopt all of the recommendations in the report, which is expected to rein in spending and add controls to HR and the executive suite. Although no specific details were available yet, Reuters said the recommendations are to be released to Uber employees today.
One investor called the board's decision an "opportunity to reboot."