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Uber Executive Fired Over Handling Of Rape Case In India In 2014

Uber hasn't had the best months lately. It's been locked in a legal battle with Waymo after being sued by the autonomous car company over confidential information that may have been shared with Uber.

Uber was also subject to a probe by two different legal firms over stories of misconduct and sexual assault. The probe had resulted in the firing of 20 employees in an effort to salvage some of the company's image. However, things took another bad turn for Uber with another high-profile firing taking place.

Legal Misconduct

Eric Alexander, Uber's president of business in Asia Pacific, has been let go following revelations about his handling of a 2014 rape case in India. Alexander had obtained medical records pertaining to the case and brought them to multiple executives in the company.

What originally happened was, in 2014, a 26-year-old woman in New Delhi had been out and called for an Uber to take her home at the end of the night. The driver that picked her up assaulted, raped, and threatened to kill her if she said anything before dropping her near her home. After the driver's arrest, it was discovered that he was awaiting trial on four other charges and that his information hadn't been properly verified before becoming an Uber driver. He would be sentenced to life in prison in late 2015. During the course of the case, Uber was banned from operating in Delhi from December 2014 to June 2015.

Alexander fits into this because he was among a handful of execs that questioned the authenticity of the story. He went to India to look into the case, though it's unknown if this was his own decision or if he was asked. It's also not clear if he legally acquired the medical files but he showed them to CEO Travis Kalanick and SVP Emil Michael.

"Travis never should have looked at the report and he should have fired him immediately," one Uber exec told Recode about Alexander.

After seeing the report, the three began to question the victim's story. In fact, they began to think that it had been set up by Uber's primary competition in India, Ola, to sabotage the company.

The file would remain in Alexander's possession for a year after the incident before other execs got their hands on it and destroyed Alexander's copy.

Blow After Blow

This is just the latest blow to a company that has been plagued with legal and image issues over the last few years. As mentioned, a recent legal probe exposed a work culture that is filled with problems such as sexual harassment and discrimination that resulted in the firing of 20 employees.

There was also a Buzzfeed investigation last year that brought up Uber's poor handling of complaints due to customer services being outsourced to third-party companies in places like Manila. Both customers and drivers were stuck dealing with subpar customer service representatives due to issues like automated systems, volume of complaints, and language barriers.

Uber has spent the last few weeks doing whatever it could to salvage its image however it could. This included firing Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the heart of Waymo's lawsuit, and the hiring of two new execs, one of whom is being brought on to train Uber's inexperienced execs. However, this newest firing is likely to send it back to square one.

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