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Former Uber engineer sues for sexual harassment

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Image caption Uber is being sued for sexual harassment by a former employee

A former Uber engineer is suing the firm for sexual harassment days after it changed its policy allowing employees to take it to court.

Ex-employee Ingrid Avendano claims to have experienced sexual harassment, pay inequity and racial discrimination while working at Uber.

The new policy introduced last week overhauls the way Uber addresses US sexual harassment and assault claims.

News site Recode first reported Ms Avendano’s claims.

Ms Avendano’s complaints seem to echo those of Susan Fowler who was also an engineer at Uber working in the same department.

Ms Avendano, who worked for the firm from February 2014 to June 2017, filed her lawsuit on Monday in the California Superior Court.

In the lawsuit she claims, that during her whole time at Uber “she saw and experienced a male-dominated work culture, permeated with degrading, marginalising, discriminatory, and sexually harassing conduct towards women”.

She said that a male engineer “repeatedly made unwelcome, demeaning comments about women” in front of her and other employees and that, when reported to management, no action was taken.

Ms Avendano claimed that the same employee had told colleagues that the only reason she had a job was “because she slept with someone at the company”, according to the complaint.

The man was fired when she made further complaints. His firing she says, then resulted in her being “isolated and ignored by many male Uber managers and other employees”.

Hospitalised

Ms Avendano now works at Netflix as a senior site reliability engineer, according to her social media profiles.

In the lawsuit, she claims that the she suffered from emotional and physical stress and was hospitalised as a result of her experience, leading her to resign.

She wants to be compensated for lost wages and benefits, and for damages related to emotional distress. She also wants to be reinstated in her job at Uber.

In its new company policies announced last week, Uber said it will no longer require confidentiality clauses in settlements or force individuals to resolve sexual harassment disputes through arbitration.

The changes follow complaints about how the firm has handled sexual assault claims and screened drivers.

The new policy, which was applauded by groups such as the National Network to End Domestic Violence, means that individual victims alleging sexual assault in the US will be able to choose where to pursue those claims, including in open court.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi called the changes “an important step forward in our commitment to safety and transparency”.

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