Guidelines about having sex with employees paints picture of sexism at under-fire company that comes directly from CEO Travis Kalanick
A leaked memo sent by Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick set guidelines for 400 staff on when it was and wasn’t acceptable to have sex at a company event in Miami in 2013.
The so-called “Miami letter”, obtained by technology site Recode, is infamous within Uber and set the tone for company culture with a series of dos and don’ts, backed by threats such as “URGENT, URGENT – READ THIS NOW OR ELSE!!!!!” and “You better read this or I’ll kick your ass”.
Fourth on the list of don’ts was: “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 [Fuck My Life].”
Kalanick also advised that there would be a “$200 puke charge” and that Uber did “not have a budget to bail anyone out of jail”. Uber employees were also advised not to “throw large kegs off of tall buildings”.
However, employees were told to “have a great fucking time” and that it was a celebration for launching in Uber’s 50th city and for reaching a $1bn run rate.
The leaked memo paints an ugly picture of American frat-house culture peppered with sexism and laddish behaviour that permeates from the top down. At the time Uber had 400 employees, a similar letter was sent out by Kalanick to employees when the company had 1,800 employees. By the time it had hit 4,000 employees Rachel Whetstone, the now departed head of communications, had taken over with a more subtle and respectful tone.
Uber is fighting against a perception of it as a company dogged by illegal and unethical behaviour, and losing. Upon each new revelation the company claims the event is an exception, to diminishing success.
It recently fired 20 employees following a sexual harassment investigation and fired a top executive that obtained the medical records of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver, after journalists learned of the incident.
Meanwhile the company has been embroiled in a legal fight with Google’s former self-driving car company Waymo, failed to help when a female Uber driver was assaulted by passengers and underpaid New York City drivers by millions of dollars.