Uber fires APAC chief for accessing medical records of 2014 Delhi rape victim: reports
US ride-hailing company Uber on Tuesday fired its President of Business for the Asia Pacific region who obtained medical records of a passenger who was raped by her Uber driver in India, on the pretext of investigating whether it was a ploy by competitor Ola to sabotage its India operations, media reports said today.
According to two reports by ReCode and The New York Times, Uber’s top executive Eric Alexander was terminated on Tuesday after reporters began contacting the company about the incident.
The incident relates to the rape of an Uber passenger in Delhi by the driver in December 2014 that had led to massive protests and created a crisis for the company’s operations in India. The company was banned by the Delhi government, and prompted all ride-hailing companies to undertake more stringent background checks. Even Ola faced the heat with the city government eventually banning all app-based cab aggregators from the national capital.
For Uber, the incident is the latest in a series of incidents that prove widespread dysfunction in the top management at the San Francisco-based company. Besides, there are over 200 cases lawyers are dealing with for Uber that range from misconduct, sexism and sexual harassment.
Sources at Uber told ReCode and NYT that Alexander was already in India at the time of the incident and obtained the medical records of the victim and ran his own parallel investigation. The entire focus of the probe was to demolish the victim’s charge.
Despite the case being a criminal investigation, Alexander kept the documents for over a year before other executives allegedly got to know of it and destroyed it. In that time, Alexander showed the report to CEO Travis Kalanick and SVP Emil Michael, apart from numerous other executives, who tried to poke holes in the woman’s claims of being raped by her Uber driver.
The victim later settled with Uber for a reported $3 million, reports said.
As per the NYT report, employees were surprised to learn that Alexander was not one among the 20 employees who were fired. More disturbing is that he was only let go once reporters began asking questions about his actions, despite Kalanick and several other high-level executives having knowledge of what he had done.
The incident in Delhi in December 2014 led to several widespread changes for India’s ride-hailing sector. While only Uber was implicated, even Ola faced the heat when the Delhi government banned all ride-hailing services in the city.