Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer whose blog post forced the startup to address sexual harassment, is fighting another workplace issue that is controversy in Silicon Valley.
Fowler filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court contesting the use of arbitration agreements, in which employees give up their rights to file class action suits.
The court is set to address the issue in three cases it took up last year. Uber is not a party to any of the cases, but Fowler referred to her experience with Uber’s arbitration agreements.
In February, Fowler alleged pervasive sexism and sexual harassment during her one year tenure at Uber. She had signed the company’s class action waiver when she was hired.
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“Employers cannot … take from employees the right to pursue this form of concerted activity as a condition of employment — even with the help of an arbitration agreement,” stated her friend of the court brief.
The document, filed this month by Fowler’s lawyer Christopher Baker of Baker Curtis & Schwartz, argues that the such agreements run counter to the National Labor Relations Act, which grants employees the right to organize.
“Without the right to collective litigation, there will be more systemic employment law violations, less effective ways to remedy them, and the balance between companies and talent will shift firmly in favor of capital,” the brief said.
Uber and Baker did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Arbitration agreements are common at “gig economy” companies, she noted.
At Uber, she claimed in the brief, arbitration agreements have offered the company legal protection from claims of “stealing driver tips” and “failing to pay minimum wage and overtime.”
Uber’s internal investigation into its workforce culture is complete, and the company has purged a number of top executives — including CEO Travis Kalanick. But the company is still putting out fires.
Among its biggest priorities is finding a new CEO and fighting a lawsuit against Google’s Waymo for allegedly using stolen technology.