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Uber Faces Engineers' Lawsuit Alleging Gender, Race Bias (bloomberg.com) 123

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Uber was sued by three Latina engineers who claim the company pays women and people of color less than their peers and doesn't promote them as frequently as males, whites and Asians. The three women from the ride-hailing company, one of whom still works there, accused Uber of violating California's Equal Pay Act in a complaint filed Tuesday in San Francisco state court on behalf of all engineers similarly held back. The women filed the complaint under a state statute that gives employees the right to step into the shoes of the state labor secretary to bring enforcement actions. That law also may give them a way around a provision in Uber's contracts requiring workplace disputes to go through one-on-one arbitration instead of as group actions in court. "Female employees and employees of color are systematically undervalued compared to their male and white or Asian American peers because female employees and employees of color receive, on average, lower rankings despite equal or better performance," according to the complaint against Uber. In July, Uber said that it adjusted salaries to ensure equity in pay for women and minorities.
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Uber Faces Engineers' Lawsuit Alleging Gender, Race Bias

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 26, 2017 @08:11AM (#55436023)

    "Uber said that it adjusted salaries to ensure equity in pay for women and minorities."

    What the hell?

    So, their jobs pay differently, depending on your gender or race? What. The. Fuck.

    • by Type44Q ( 1233630 ) on Thursday October 26, 2017 @12:13PM (#55438125)
      What, were you expecting compensation to be based on skills and performance??
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 26, 2017 @08:14AM (#55436039)

    Uber was sued by three Latina engineers who claim the company pays women and people of color less than their peers and doesn't promote them as frequently as males, whites and Asians. The three women from the ride-hailing company

    As we all know here, there is a huge difference between an average and a good engineer in terms of productivity and value to the company.

    There is nothing here to indicate these three were equal quality engineers or not. Maybe they were and Uber is evil. But why do we have to assume everyone deserves equal pay just for showing up regardless of what they actually do?

    The ERA is equal pay for equal work. There is nothing to indicate the work is equal. Maybe it is, but it's just sad and disgusting that that's rendered a non-issue in 2017 America.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I know it's traditional not to RTFA, but from TFS:

      "Female employees and employees of color are systematically undervalued compared to their male and white or Asian American peers because female employees and employees of color receive, on average, lower rankings despite equal or better performance, "

      • Plaintiffs assert equality of skill and productivity when it suits them to do so, and will rely on SJW jurors to avoid at all costs any objective measurement of their value, relative to other employees. Same old routine. And if they don't have an internal document asserting that a given engineer is equally productive, equally present week after week, works as many hours, remains as up-to-speed, has the same communications skills, and is otherwise exactly as valuable as somebody else who makes a dollar more
        • Plaintiffs apparently have evidence in Uber's personnel files that they're as productive as white male engineers who earn more. You're throwing out a lot of verbiage that includes a lot of lame assumptions. What matters is that the women are not paid right now according to their productivity right now. If the white men are doing things that are better in the long run than the Latina women, then their productivity will differ later on.

          What you seem to be saying, with a lot of unnecessary vitriol, is th

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        LOL, quoting the summary is "flamebait"

    • So lets say 20% of your engineers are good engineers.
      and 1% of the minority group engineers are good engineers, then there seems to be a problem. Because your race or gender shouldn't be a major factor in your skills.

      • Let's compare: among 1000 kernel devs with most commits who have names that show gender (I know western and slavic naming conventions), there's 8 women. In other similar projects, gender ratios seem to be similar. Yet for example Google has 26% women among engineers. As open source projects are driven by work you actually do rather than by irrational hiring decisions, I believe it's the former figure that's representative of skill (or rather, of who decides to learn these skills). Thus, only possibiliti

        • This is not to say that very highly skilled female/minority engineers don't exist

          Absolutely agree. And the reason why so many of them work at Google is because they can.

          • And what about the other tech companies, who also sport a similar overabundance? They sing in one voice here.

            Which is greatly harmful to the women who actually are skilled, as they indeed tend to get dismissed by their peers as mere diversity hires. Which spins up the wheel of hate even more.

            • My point is that the only firms that approach gender equity are the ones that are big enough to attract and hire the best women developers out there.

              At smaller companies they may indeed be diversity hires, because the pool is not large. I don't believe that's because women are any less capable - but they're obviously fewer in number right from the introductory university course.

              • I don't believe that's because women are any less capable

                All observations show that they're indeed less capable here -- on the average. And that's not surprising: there's so many physical gender difference, such as body water content ratio, brain sizes, muscle and fat layout, ability to discern colors and smells, etc -- thus, assuming there are no mental differences would be preposterous. But, all that average tells you is that, with a gender-blind criteria, one group will make a smaller part of the population than the general count would say.

                Personal variance

                • All observations show that they're indeed less capable here -- on the average.

                  I don't disagree with that. But the vast majority of men don't choose to become engineers either. So overall, it's more a matter of choice.

                  • But the vast majority of men don't choose to become engineers either. So overall, it's more a matter of choice.

                    And here you nailed the most important factor.

                    But, when voting for a politician or hiring an employee, you don't get a time machine to their kindergarten to tell toddlers that a toy car fits girls while it's not a shame for a boy to play with dolls. No matter how hard you try to change early stages of the pipeline, any effects will be visible after more years than your company even exists. You get to pick from the pool of candidates available today.

        • by mvdwege ( 243851 )

          As open source projects are driven by work you actually do

          Oh sweet Summer Child. You actually believe Open Source is immune to politics and is a perfectly level playing field. How endearingly naive.

          • Oh sweet Summer Child. You actually believe Open Source is immune to politics and is a perfectly level playing field. How endearingly naive.

            Well, the field obviously isn't level. Outreachy, Debconf travel funds, etc -- people indeed do get discriminated against based on their gender.

            Female contributors just aren't there. I for one do quite a bit of mentoring [debian.org] -- out of 137 packages, there's just one upload by a woman. It was a fine upload, perfect on the first try while most people need multiple attempts. But it's the only one.

            I try hard to not discriminate or even say things in a condescending tone, and I got the impression I'm doing ok --

        • You're talking about hiring pools, which are irrelevant, since the Latina women in question were already hired by Uber. The question is the quality of their work (apparently good) compared to their pay (apparently not as good).

  • If you don't like how much you're paid, and if you feel that the only way to get what you feel deserve is a lawsuit, then you've proven to me that you never deserved the money in the first place. No one is forcing you to work at a place where you feel undervalued. It's more likely that you've overestimated your own worth.
    • Most businesses frown on employees discussing their compensation. So, until you find out that you're making less than someone who has been there less time/is less experienced/is less knowledgeable/all of the above, how are you supposed to know that you're undervalued?

      At my previous job (which, admittedly was a retail job), I found out at one point, I was making less per hour than someone who was recently hired, and that was at the point where I'd been there a decade.

  • I know in my local area Uber is much valued service that most people love having around. I hear co-workers, friends, and even random people around that all talk about how great Uber is to have around. I have tried out being a driver and it was a good experience. I tried it for a few weeks and just found it wasn't for me and didn't really need it as extra income, but overall there was nothing really negative about the experience. Is it just the "nerd/geek" culture that seems to be completely fired up anytim
    • Uber + SJW = Slashdot story.
    • There is a bunch of different reasons.
      1. They are the Anti-Capitalist who just hate everything that every company does.
      2. They are the Millennial haters who want these damn kids to buy there own car.
      3. Uber isn't the most progressive company anyways.
      4. Uber migrated from a ride sharing (If I were to commute to work, I could pick up 3 other people along the way and help cover travel cost) service to a contracted Taxi service. So the Taxi Company lobby groups have put effort in vilifying these groups.
      5. Polit

      • Don't forget the fact that Uber seems to outright break the law, when they are not stretching it to the very limit, almost daily. Companies that have a prooven track record of being shady deserve to have more attention focused on them.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          You mean they don't conform to the barriers to entry erected by the dinosaurs that don't want to be forced to change or adapt to the customer?

          Uber is much more efficient, effective, and far less likely to subject me to a driver that makes me fear for my life.

          The dinosaurs needed an extinction event.

          • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

            Loan sharks are more efficient and easier to deal with than banks. We still don't want them.

          • People driving commercially in most jurisdictions need commercial licenses and commercial insurance. Uber tends to pass on that, blaming the drivers if they don't have it.

            The government requires insurance, and there's good reasons for that. The reason commercial insurance is more expensive is that insurance companies find they need to pay out more. Therefore, a Uber driver with the typical personal policy doesn't have insurance while working for Uber.

            Commercial drivers' licenses have good reason als

  • Regardless of whether this lawsuit has merit or not, this is why most businesses tell their employees not to discuss salaries/compensation. Even when it isn't discrimination (and yes, you better believe it still happens), there's literally no upside for the company.

    • Also they're usually illegal: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/13/... [npr.org]
    • It's easier to have salary grades by job description and simply fire your low-performers (though in a unionized environment this can be very difficult - and in a government unionized environment almost impossible).

      You can also track seniority in terms of hours worked (not years of employment), which allows for women who take maternity leave to have their career progression paused while they're off, and have a pay scale within the pay grades that is seniority-based.

      What I've seen multiple times, though, is '

  • Poor Asians (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Thursday October 26, 2017 @08:22AM (#55436091) Homepage
    Those poor Asians. They get discriminated against in university admissions with the blessing of the federal government and SJWs, and now they're not even included in discrimination lawsuits any more. In fact they're named right up with the evil white males as being part of the problem. I really feel for them, they have to work twice as hard for the same result that everyone else gets.
    • Re:Poor Asians (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JeffOwl ( 2858633 ) on Thursday October 26, 2017 @09:29AM (#55436623)
      I will be pilloried for even bringing it up, but I am asking a sincere question. Why have East Asians done so well in the US in Universities and in business, especially tech and medicine, while being a minority from a different continent? A century ago, Asian Americans were mostly unskilled laborers. They worked on rail roads, in mines, in laundries, etc... Yet even though they started out poor, were subject to racial violence and widespread discrimination, many Asians managed to move up the socioeconomic ladder. And yes, they did not look like European Americans and did not talk like European Americans. There are many articles that talk about Asians tending to have stronger family units, placing more value on education to the point of sacrifice so that the kids could go to better schools, believe that hard work can lead to academic success rather than requiring a natural talent, etc... All of this has led to Asian Americans earning a different stereotype from what they had in the early 20th Century. Or at least that's how much of the narrative is being delivered. Is that really right? Did Asian Americans just overcome much of the institutional bias through hard work and sacrifice? Is it really that simple or was there another change in the psyche of America?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes. It is really that simple.

        As a class, they work harder, spend more time on school work as children, have families that demand they always do better and get top grades, stronger family support structures that value education, and frown upon pop culture idol worship.

        Work. School. Family. Success.

        That simple.

      • I think most Asian-Americans are recent immigrants or their children, not descended from 1860s railway worker immigrants. The recent immigrants generally were intelligent, hard-working, and accomplished in their native countries. A lot of them came to the US for college, graduate school, or tech jobs. So it's no surprise that they succeed in the US, but that doesn't necessarily say anything about Asian societies in general.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What no one wants to ever admit is that genetics is 90% of pretty much everything, and what isn't covered by genetics is covered by culture. Look at what cultures favor education and you'll see who does well in a culture founded by people who favor education. Duh!

        • Nobody intelligent admits that genetics is 90% of everything because it isn't. Last I checked, something like 50% of the variance in intelligence in people was accounted for by looking at the intelligence of their parents. This doubtless overstates the genetic component, since there's lots of environmental factors that tend to be similar between parents and children.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        They weren't slaves, the systematic discrimination was not as bad, they were able to more effectively work their way out of poverty.

        Black people have strong family ties too. The focus on education comes with wealth. It wasn't a big deal in China until people started to see how it helped the middle class, and we see the same thing happening in south Asia add Africa now. The issue for black people in America is access and systemic bias on a scale that no other group faces.

      • The reason is cultural, and you've pretty well summed it up. Other ethnic groups don't seem to share the same culture.

        My son was in a talented youth math program. Nomination was by teachers, and the kids taking the entrance exam were very heavily East Asian in ethnicity. The exam was designed to test for mathematical ability rather than education or experience, and the ethnic balance of the kids that got in was much more like the ethnic balance in the local population (much lower in blacks, though).

  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday October 26, 2017 @08:25AM (#55436117)
    This suit is being brought under California's Private Attorney General Act, aka the "Sue Your Boss" law. The state will get 75% of any payout, but the real bonanza will be to the attorneys. Because the employer is on the hook for all legal costs, they'll profit handsomely. This law was a gift to the plaintiff bar and has resulted in things like a 2013 suit against Goodyear Tire for allegedly failing to issue wage statements that included the last four digits of employees’ social security or employee ID numbers. The plaintiff got $1k while the attorneys got $105k.
  • They give promotions and raises to engineers??!
    Everyone know that to get a promotion or a raise then you have to move to another company.

    Promotions within company are for management level and above only.

  • Aren't "people of color"????

    • If your skin tone happens to belong to the group seen as doing well... welcome to the other side of racial politics. Your individual case doesn't matter, you're "the man" because of your skin.

      Asians are generally perceived as hard working and well educated, so they're now getting lumped in with white people.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday October 26, 2017 @09:17AM (#55436475)

    Large companies don't seem to have these issues because they have a whole legal and HR team advising every single action. Also, every place I've worked has had a zero tolerance policy when things like sexual harassment are involved. Basically unless you're an executive or top salesman or connected in some other way, they don't mess around when they start getting complaints about people. (Sales always gets a free pass in my experience, however.)

    Maybe as Uber has been growing so quickly, and were built on disrupting everything, they felt they didn't need to go this route. But look at companies like IBM...they've been dismantling their entire US workforce and firing everyone over a certain age, and have been doing it all legally from what it seems.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Stop hiring women and minorities as they will sue for lack of promotions due to incapability.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If tech companies would stop hiring members of the outrage culture these problems would suddenly cease.

    Here's an idea: stop hiring wheezy whiny bitch types. Double down on the bro code. Be Amazon.

  • There are situations where discrimination is blatant and severe remedies are called for. However there are situations that are really hard to get right. For example if you have a hard and fast rule that anyone who misses work or is late five times in one year is fired and you stick to that rule you might find that people with young children are adversely effected. But that same rule would also get rid of people who drink too much. The employer need not look at the sex or marital status or age of th

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