A senior executive at Uber who obtained a rape victim’s medical records has been fired. The victim was raped in India by an Uber driver. The senior Uber executive, Eric Alexander, is the president of Uber’s business in Asia and the termination of his services followed questions concerning his actions from reporters.
When news of the rape which happened in the Delhi region got out in late 2014, Uber was criticized for what was seen as lax screening practices since reports emerged indicating that the culprit had been previously arrested on rape suspicions but in a different case. Consequently, enhanced safety measures were introduced in Uber’s vehicles and this included introducing a panic button which passengers could use if they felt unsafe. The victim also filed a lawsuit which Uber promptly settled. Uber’s driver was meanwhile convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
For Uber the Delhi rape incident came at a bad time as it was banned in Delhi at a time when it was trying to dominate the populous Indian market. At the time the ride-hailing company had just raised $1.4 billion in a round of financing and was eyeing more financial resources from other investors.
According to sources Alexander was convinced the rape incident was a plot hatched by its rivals specifically Ola, which is the leading ide service in the second most populous country in the world. Consequently, Alexander conducted his investigations and also shared his concerns with Travis Kalanick, the chief executive officer of Uber and Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president. In his meetings with Kalanick, Alexander had the medical records of the woman as he was convinced the records did not corroborate her account.
The firing comes following an investigation that has been going on to root out misconduct in the ride-hailing company’s leadership ranks. In the coming weeks the report from the investigation which was led by former U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, is expected to be released to employees of Uber.
Earlier this week it was reported that the ride service had sacked 20 employees over matters relating to another investigation. A couple of other employees are also said to be on notice or enrolled in training programs which are meant to address their shortcomings as identified in the inquiry. Prior to the firing sources also indicated that former and current employees of Uber were taken aback to find out that Alexander was not included in the group of 20 employees who had earlier been sacked.