by Graham Pierrepoint
Uber, while still arguably at the forefront of the relatively young smartphone cab-hailing industry, has come under considerable fire in recent months. While the firm may continue to dominate the taxi market on a worldwide scale – to the point where court cases have been opened and closed on whether or not they provide fair competition, most notably in Italy – the brand’s ideology and the actions of some of their staff have brought them a number of negative headlines in just a matter of months. It was Uber that faced backlash over hiking prices during protests against US President Donald Trump at JFK Airport earlier this year – and, in recent days, they have taken steps to remove at least 20 staff from their books as a result of ongoing investigations into sexual harassment at the Uber offices. The investigation is still ongoing – but details pertaining to a different matter entirely have brought the company’s name back into headlines once again.
Reports suggest that Uber Asia Pacific business president Eric Alexander was removed from the company after it became public knowledge that the executive had accessed medical records belonging to a woman who reported she had been sexually assaulted by an Uber driver in India in 2014. The case had, at the time, led India to repealing Uber from the country entirely, and current reports suggest that Alexander may only have been released from the company once reports went wide that he obtained the woman’s records. Uber themselves are yet to confirm directly, claiming that Alexander was simply no longer with the company. The attacker, meanwhile, has since been sentenced to life imprisonment.
It is claimed that Uber executives accessed the woman’s records after casting doubt – and several claim that the move undermines many rights and that the accessing of the records could be perceived as a move to discredit the victim’s story. However, as it stands, no further comments have come clear from Uber – other than that they acknowledge having legally settled a lawsuit with the woman for over $1m in light of her claim of negligence and fraud.
Uber may still be the best-known taxi-hailing firm in the world – but it is clear that their inner workings continue to come under intense scrutiny. The investigation into their workplace culture continues – but it is not clear if any action will be taken with regard to executives.