A woman who was raped by an Uber driver in India is suing the company after reports that several senior executives obtained her medical files and used them to sow doubt about her account of the crime.
The lawsuit alleges that Uber’s former president of business in the Asia Pacific region, Eric Alexander, obtained the woman’s medical records and shared them with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and another senior executive, Emil Michael. The trio reportedly questioned the woman’s account and came up with a theory that a competing ride-hailing service in India, Ola, was somehow involved in the rape allegations.
Alexander was dismissed from Uber after news outlets reported on his handling of the medical files. Michael resigned from the company following a wide-ranging investigation into Uber’s company culture that included harassment and discrimination complaints. Kalanick announced this week that he would take a temporary leave of absence from his company to mourn the death of his mother and to work on his leadership skills.
The lawsuit, first reported by the New York Times, accuses Uber, Alexander, Michael, and Kalanick of defamation and public disclosure of private facts.
“Rape denial is just another form of the toxic gender discrimination that is endemic at Uber and ingrained in its culture,” Douglas Wigdor, a lawyer for the woman, told the New York Times.
The woman, who is named as a Jane Doe in the lawsuit, was raped by an Uber driver in 2014. The driver was convicted and is serving a life sentence. At the time of the incident and throughout the course of the trial, Uber executives were publicly supportive of the victim. When the driver was convicted in 2015, the company said that it was pleased with the verdict, and it settled out of court with the woman.
Her new lawsuit, filed today, says that Uber still holds a copy of her medical records.
“No one should have to go through a horrific experience like this, and we’re truly sorry that she’s had to relive it over the last few weeks,” an Uber spokesperson told Gizmodo.
The lawsuit comes in the wake of dozens of sexual harassment and discrimination complaints at Uber. The company recently commissioned two law firms to investigate the complaints, and the broader culture at the company. Investigations into harassment complaints led to the firing of 20 Uber employees, as well as a culture report detailing recommendations for Uber to make its work environment safer and more inclusive.
Gizmodo contacted the law firm representing the woman and will update if they respond. [New York Times]