Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer who wrote a blog post about sexual harassment at the company that set off at least two internal investigations, has decided to fight for employment rights at the national level. No, she’s not suing Uber. Instead she’s filed a petition with the Supreme Court calling into question the practice of forced arbitration.
In an amicus brief, Fowler draws on her experience at Uber to explain why contract clauses asking employees to give up their right to jury trials and class action suits aren’t just a cost saving tactic, they’re a way of enabling corporate abuse. “Companies require class action waivers to limit or eliminate the legal risk associated with systemic—and potentially or certainly illegal—employment practices,” the brief notes. When cases are handled in arbitration, employee complaints are handled privately, making it easier for a company to hide recurring problems. In Uber’s case, an investigation into its corporate culture turned up 215 instances of sexual harassment and lead to 20 firings.
Fowler’s petition is in relation to three court cases already before the Supreme Court.