Eric Alexander, president of business for Uber in the Asia Pacific region, was fired by the company on Thursday for mishandling a 2014 case in which an Uber driver raped a female passenger in New Delhi, India.
The executive did not believe the circumstances of the incident, so he sought the medical records of the victim and shared them with other executives, including CEO Travis Kalanick.
Alexander’s departure from the ride-hailing giant comes at a time when law firms are carrying out an internal investigation of over 200 discrimination and harassment claims. Uber has recently snatched Apple Music’s PR boss to help the company paint its story under a new, positive light.
Alexander thought India’s rape case was all a big conspiracy
Back in 2014, Uber was growing overseas, and India was one of its target markets. The Asian nation, however, already had an established local service with the same characteristics called Ola Cabs.
Ola launched in India in 2010, roughly around the same time Uber made its debut in the United States. CEO Travis Kalanick knew it would be hard to have success in the area, so he put Eric Alexander in charge of the regional division.
In December 2014, an Uber driver named Shiv Kumar Yadav accepted a ride request by a woman in New Delhi. He sexually assaulted her during the trip, and she later went to the police to accuse the perpetrator and the company as the responsible for the awful crime.
Alexander was one of Uber’s associates to be summoned by the court to testify during the case, which later came to an off-court settlement with the victim for an undisclosed amount. Yadav, on the other hand, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015.
While it seemed like a straightforward open-and-shut case at the time, the Asia-Pacific boss was not quite convinced. It is unclear when or how, but he managed to obtain the passenger’s medical records in hopes of finding proof that the rape didn’t happen.
According to Recode, who first broke the report, Eric Alexander believed at the time that Ola Cabs might have staged the incident to push Uber out of the way in India. The local boss reportedly shared the documents with several other executives, including company head Travis Kalanick.
The findings allegedly come from results of an internal investigation of the ridesharing giant by law firms Perkins Coie and Covington & Burling. If true, they constitute a clear violation of user privacy guidelines and a criminal back in India.
Judging by Uber’s recent confirmation that it has parted ways with the executive, the accusations might have some truth behind them. In a statement to BuzzFeed, Ola Cabs referred to its rival’s suggestions as “despicable” and “low on morality.”
The ongoing investigation has resulted in the firing of 20 people. Out of the 215 internal complaints, 54 are related to discrimination, 47 to sexual harassment, and 45 to unprofessional behavior. Bullying, retaliation, and physical security claims also figure on the list.