Uber finds itself ‘disrupted’

Chances are you’ve never heard of Susan Fowler, but a blog post she wrote on Sunday is shaking up the ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc., one of the nation’s biggest tech companies.

Fowler, a software engineer, said in her blog post that she left Uber after a little over a year on the job because the company refused to deal with sexual harassment and discrimination against women engineers. On just her first day on the job, Fowler said, her manager sent her messages explaining that he was in an open relationship and looking for partners. She took screen grabs of the messages and forwarded them to the company’s human resources department.

While Fowler said the HR officials told her the manager was clearly engaging in sexual harassment, they decided to do nothing other than give him a warning because he was a high performer within the company and it was his first offense. Fowler said she was told she could transfer to another division within the company to avoid the manager or stay put and run the risk of receiving a negative review.

Fowler transferred to another division, but soon discovered in conversations with other women at the firm that the same manager had harassed them. She also learned first-hand how dysfunctional the firm’s management had become, describing it as a corporate version of Game of Thrones.

“When I joined Uber, the organization I was part of was over 25 percent women. By the time I was trying to transfer to another engineering organization, this number had dropped down to less than 6 percent,” Fowler wrote. “There were two major reasons for this: there was the organizational chaos, and there was also the sexism within the organization.”

Fowler’s blog post prompted the company to bring in former US attorney general Eric Holder to investigate diversity issues at the firm. Then on Tuesday Uber CEO Travis Kalanick held an open meeting with employees where he tearfully apologized for the lack of diversity in the workplace and for not properly responding to employee complaints.

“What’s described here is abhorrent & against everything we believe in. Anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired,” he said in a tweet.

Uber board member Arianna Huffington, who joined Kalanick at the meeting with employees, issued a statement saying the CEO spoke honestly about the mistakes he has made at the company. “It was great to see employees holding managers accountable. I also view it as my responsibility to hold the leadership team’s feet to the fire on this issue,” she said.

Some are not so sure if the hard-charging Kalanick has truly changed, or whether the company’s willingness to address internal problems is more related to its upcoming initial public offering. Uber is valued at $69 billion and is expected to go public either later this year or in 2018.

–BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

State leaders unveiled a long-awaited bill Tuesday morning aimed at reducing recidivism in the state’s criminal justice system, but some want to reforms to go much farther, including SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants who called in a speech hours later for repeal of almost all mandatory minimum sentences. (CommonWealth) Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley defended mandatory minimums, and criticized Gants for “being so aggressive in getting into the political arena.” (CommonWealth)

The tension between prosecutors and judges over sentencing surfaced on Tuesday when two Lawrence men pleaded guilty to running a fentanyl trafficking operation and were sentenced to three to four years in prison. Attorney General Maura Healey had sought sentences of eight to nine years.

Sen. William Brownsberger, making criminal justice reform his top priority as the cochair of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, says the way to reduce crime is to reduce incarceration rates. (CommonWealth)

A proposal by state Treasurer Deb Goldberg to put Lottery gambling online belongs in the Hall of Fame for Bad Ideas, says Jim Braude. (Greater Boston)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

More than 200 residents of Townsend turned out for a meeting where they learned the police department had improperly checked the criminal background of a person applying for a job with the town. (Lowell Sun)

A city councilor derailed a packed meeting on a discussion to designate Quincy a “sanctuary city” when he objected to the proposal, putting the bill on hold and frustrating the residents who turned out for the hearing. (Patriot Ledger)

The Newton City Council votes to make their community a “welcoming city” with regard to immigrants. (Boston Globe)

Two New Bedford city councilors proposed dueling names for a city “pocket park.” (Standard-Times)

Boston’s Liquor Licensing Board may require bars with a history of brawls to serve drinks in plastic cups. (Boston Herald)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump unveiled a greatly enhanced deportation plan that would round up and detain millions more immigrants than before, including many with minor criminal offenses such as falsely obtaining government benefits. (New York Times)

The fate of the H-1B program that lets skilled foreign workers enter the US has become another flashpoint as Trump looks to upend immigration policies. (Boston Globe)

The Trump administration, believing transgender student protections are a states’ rights issue, prepares to walk back President Obama’s directive to schools on transgender students. (Politico)

GOP lawmakers face anger and protests over President Trump and his policies at town halls during the congressional recess. (Time)

A federal appeals court upholds Maryland’s ban on assault weapon rifles, ruling the guns are not entitled to protection under the Second Amendment. (Governing)

To the extent Trump has a coherent governing philosophy, it’s the Heritage Foundation that is the think tank behind behind it. (The New Republic)

ELECTIONS

Former state senator Dan Wolf, the owner of Cape Air, says he hasn’t ruled out a run for governor and is meeting with Democratic groups around the state. (Politico) Attorney General Maura Healey, meanwhile, tried to put to rest persistent speculation that she is planning a run for governor. (State House News)

William Green, a Lawrence police officer who was suspended by Mayor Dan Rivera, says he plans to run against Rivera. He says his challenge “isn’t personal.” (Eagle-Tribune) Rivera, meanwhile, launches a $110,000 gun buyback program, offering $100 for every working gun turned into police. (Eagle-Tribune)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Boston Symphony Orchestra unveils plans for a $30 million educational complex at Tanglewood in Stockbridge, the first major investment in the orchestra’s summer home since 1994. (Berkshire Eagle)

Gretchen Effgen of nuTonomy says Boston is emerging as a mobility innovation center. (CommonWealth)

Owners of the more than 7,700 farms in Massachusetts say migrant workers are key to operation, with foreign-born workers making up nearly 73 percent of the seasonal labor force through government visas. (MetroWest Daily News)

Real estate developers have expressed the most interest in buying the Marlborough Airport while a few who have kicked the tires on keeping the land as an airport have not been back. (MetroWest Daily News)

Two Federal Reserve officials predicted three rate hikes in 2017, an unusual forecast from members of the normally tight-lipped group, and one says he sees signs of a financial bubble with low inflation but stubborn unemployment rates. (U.S. News & World Report)

EDUCATION

Milton Academy says an investigation revealed that four former staff members molested students at the pricey prep school decades ago. (Boston Globe)

A Globe editorial lays out ideas for diversifying the state’s teaching ranks.

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The Berkshires seems poised to finally get its first medical marijuana dispensary after a facility in Great Barrington wins state approval. (Berkshire Eagle)

Hospitals are feeling pressure to reject foreign nationals seeking residency positions because of fears that the physicians won’t be admitted to the country under the Trump administration’s new restrictive immigration policies. (Boston Globe)

Joan Vennochi slams Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for following through, despite protests, with its plans for a swank fundraiser at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Boston ranked eighth in the nation in a research firm’s traffic congestion index, scoring a 10.2. Los Angeles led the nation with a score of 18.6. (WBUR)

MBTA service is improving in the wake of reforms pushed by the Baker administration. (Gloucester Times)

ARTS

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is planning a new $30 million complex for its Tanglewood center. The project will include performance and rehearsal space and dining facilities. (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

The Conservation Law Foundation sues state officials in a bid to overturn their approval of a luxury condominium project near the South Boston waterfront. (Boston Globe)

The owners of land in Brockton that had been targeted for siting a controversial power plant have put the property up for sale, signalling an end to the disputed project. (The Enterprise)

A Jeep that has been buried in a Truro dune for more than 40 years is being removed. (Cape Cod Times) And the same goes for a ship that went down next to Anthony’s Pier 4 restaurant in Boston during the Blizzard of ‘78. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Boston police are refusing to divulge the race and gender makeup of the department’s specialty units, information the department routinely provided under former commissioner Ed Davis. (Boston Globe)

Boston police are investigating an act of vandalism to the Shaw Memorial on Boston Common, which commemorates 54th Massachusetts Regiment, a unit of black soldiers that fought in the Civil War. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

Milo Yiannopoulos resigns from Breitbart News amid pedophilia allegations. (Time)

GateHouse Media, whose parent company was bought last week by a Japanese bank, reports a 50 percent drop in profit for 2016 but company officials say they’re in position to buy up more papers even after making further cuts. (Boston Business Journal)