Uber CEO Gives Advice on Having Sex with Coworkers

Travis Kalanick wrote a memo to employees that included the "do's and don'ts" of having sex with colleagues at company gatherings.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick / REUTERS

The sexist workplace culture at Uber Technologies Inc. starts from the top down, according to a recently leaked internal email.


In 2013, after the ride-hailing company rolled out its 50th global city, it was time to celebrate at the Shore Club in Miami, Fla. But before the festivities, CEO Travis Kalanick decided to establish employee sex rules for the celebration.

In the email obtained by Recode last week, Kalanick sent a memo to the then 400 employees at the company with the subject line: "URGENT, URGENT - READ THIS NOW OR ELSE!!!!!"

In his list of "Don'ts," Kalanick included fornication guidelines:

"Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic 'YES! I will have sex with you' AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML."

FML is slang for "F**k my life."

He also advised that there would be a $200 "puke charge" and offered "don'ts" about practices like drug use. And, he told employees not to talk to the press.

"Have a great f**king time. This is a celebration! We've all earned it," he wrote.

Some executives thought Kalanick's tone was too careless, and he was advised not to send the email.

"Some worried that building a global public company required a more mature tone from the CEO," according to Recode.

"But sources said Kalanick was proud of his letter to the team and spoke about it often."

With Kalanick at the helm, inappropriate behavior by management has led to volatile working conditions.

In February, former engineer Susan Fowler claimed that her manager sexually harassed her when she worked at the company.

Fowler revealed in a blog post that when she reported the offense to human resources officials and management, they declined to punish the alleged offender because he "was a high performer" and this was his "first offense."

She also said that after speaking with other female employees, she realized that both HR and management had been lying about this being the manager's "first offense."

As a result of Fowler's public complaints, the company began a wide-range investigation into sexism and sexual harassment.

Ed Baker, the vice president of product and growth, resigned in March after more than three years at the company.

In an email to employees explaining his resignation Baker said, "I have always wanted to apply my experience in technology and growth to the public sector. And now seems like the right moment to get involved."

However, Baker was seen at the Miami event "making out" with an employee, which was witnessed by other employees, according to sources that informed board member Ariana Huffington. Last year, Huffington was the first woman to join Uber's board since it was founded in 2009. For seven years, the company did not have a woman on its board.

In regard to Baker's behavior, "there was no suggestion of any sexual harassment on his part and the encounter was apparently consensual," according to CNBC.

He perhaps felt comfortable in his actions as they were in accordance with the guidelines in the "Miami memo." Recode reports that Kalanick actually sent the memo again "the next year when there were 1,800 employees at Uber."

Last week, Uber announced it had fired more than 20 employees following a report by law firm Perkins Coie.

Perkins Coie investigated 215 staff complaints, the majority from employees at its headquarters in San Francisco, going back as far as 2012, Uber said, taking action in 58 cases and no action on 100 more.

According to Reuters, Uber said that of the claims, 54 were related to discrimination, 47 to sexual harassment, 45 to unprofessional behavior, 33 to bullying and 36 to other things. The law firm has been working in parallel with a broader investigation by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

At a meeting Sunday, Uber's board of directors voted unanimously to adopt all recommendations from Holder following the sprawling, multi-month investigation into the company's cultures and practices.

The recommendations will be released to Uber employees on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

In addition, The New York Times reports that Uber directors were also weighing a three-month leave of absence for Kalanick, according to three people with information on the board's agenda.

Read Kalanick's email published by Recode.

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The racist and hate-filled rant against a Black woman riding on the Long Island Rail Road in New York is now under investigation by Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials.

Passengers said a man ranted for about 10 minutes, spewing racist and sexist slurs directed at another rider, 25-year-old Soraya Orelien.

"He made me feel disgusting," Orelien said in an interview Friday with WABC-TV. "He made me feel less than what I am. And I'm not the only one who has experienced this."

The incident occurred around 10 p.m. on April 19, but the video went viral last week. Orelien was on her cellphone speaking with a friend during her commute that originated at Penn Station. Hearing her talk on the phone enraged the man and he confronted her.

A woman named Aneesa Janat Rafeek, according to her Facebook page, was a passenger on the train that night and posted a video on her page showing a portion of the racist rant, which she also said lasted 10 minutes.

She explained:

"*Let me be clear about what prompted these nasty remarks*

"An African American woman was behind him speaking on the phone (not loudly in my opinion as I was sitting only diagonally from him and could not hear her).

"He started off by mumbling under his breath and then escalated to yelling at her about being a loud mouth b**ch. When another young woman, also Black, stood up for her, he continued to yell and then call[ed] them monkeys.

"What this video does not show — him getting up to get in the young [woman's] face to scream at her more. It was honestly so disgusting to witness.

"Say what you want in regards to 'both' sides being ignorant and needing to be quiet. Have someone start yelling profanities at you for being 'loud' and see how you react."

Orelien told Eyewitness News, "He came to my face and was like, 'Ooh ooh ahh ahh, you monkey,' and I just sat there. I just sat there, and I didn't say anything. I just said, 'You need to leave. Leave me alone. Please just walk away.'"

The Baruch College senior said she is coming forward and speaking about the incident as a reality check for others.

"I want people to know that this still happens!" Orelien told PIX11 News.

"I'm proud to be a strong Black woman in this day and age, and no one can talk to me like that."

Sources identified the man as Edward Ruggiero, a Manhattan stagehand and member of Local 1 IATSE, who lives in Long Beach, L.I., according to the NY Daily News. But he denies that it's him in the video.

Eyewitness News cameras went to the suspected man's home and confronted him on his porch.

"Get the story straight. Do you want to talk to us? You call yourself a journalist — get your f****** story straight!" he said. The man rushed inside before reporters could speak with him further.

An LIRR spokesperson told PIX11 in a statement:

"This language is offensive, completely inappropriate, and has no place in our society, let alone on the Long Island Rail Road. The MTA Police are actively investigating this report … Anyone who sees a situation like this unfolding should notify a conductor immediately. This absolutely falls under the mantra of: if you see something, say something."