Ride-hailing company Uber has fired a top executive who had allegedly obtained medical records of a 26-year-old woman raped by an Uber driver in India in 2014, according to a media report.
Eric Alexander, the president of business in the Asia Pacific, was fired on Tuesday, just as the company announced that it had fired 20 employees over the last few months for harassment, discrimination and inappropriate behaviour.
Alexander had obtained the medical records of the woman, who was raped and assaulted by Uber driver Shiv Kumar Yadav in New Delhi in December 2014, a report in the technology news website Recode said.
The report quoted sources as saying Alexander had showed the medical records to “Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Senior Vice-President Emil Michael”.
Further, numerous executives at the car-hailing company were either told about the records or shown them by this group and the sources said Alexander had carried around the document for “about a year” before other executives, “presumably the legal department, obtained the report and destroyed his copy”.
The report said Alexander was not among the group of 20 people fired by Uber as part of an internal investigation into its workplace culture after employees made allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic work environment.
Alexander’s handling of the situation was among the over 200 claims reported to two law firms which were conducting the investigations into widespread management issues at the company, the report said.
The news website contacted the company about Alexander’s actions and it was told that he was no longer employed there.
It quoted an Uber spokesperson as saying Alexander was no longer with the company.
The 2014 incident had triggered scrutiny into Uber by the Indian government and the company was banned from operating in Delhi till June 2015. A Delhi court sentenced Yadav to life imprisonment for raping the woman in 2015.
It said that while the company was publicly apologetic, “some top executives apparently had trouble believing that the incident was entirely true”, including Alexander, who was already in India at that time and investigated the claims.
Alexander then brought the files to Kalanick and Michael, who read them, the report said, adding that soon all three began to consider the prospect whether Uber’s main rival in India, Ola, was behind the incident to sabotage the company.
“Travis never should have looked at the report and he should have fired him immediately,” said one executive.
An Ola spokesperson in a statement said, “It is a shame that the privacy and morals of a woman have to be questioned in an attempt to trivialise a horrific crime. It is despicable that anyone can even conceive an attempt to malign competition using this as an opportunity. If this report were to be even remotely true, this is an all-time low on morality and a reflection of the very character of an organisation.”
Though Kalanick, Michael and Alexander have no medical training, they questioned the incident based on the medical report, the report said.
At the time, Kalanick had condemned the New Delhi incident, saying the company will do “everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery”.