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Companies Are Making Ex-Uber Employees Prove They're Not Assholes

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Uber’s brash workplace culture has been front and center in recent weeks, after a former engineer wrote an essay about widespread sexual harassment at the company’s headquarters. For employees looking to jump ship, it hasn’t been easy, The Guardian reports. They’re stuck having to prove they’re not “assholes,” as one put it to the news outlet.

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The problem, some employees are finding out, is that having Uber on your resume is something of a black mark. From The Guardian:

“People are looking to get out because they’re just sick of working for that company,” said a former Uber employee, who asked not to be identified. “A lot of them have told me that they’re having a hard time finding something new.”

At job interviews, the employee said, recruiters seem wary of Uber’s “hustle-oriented” workplace. “They have to defend themselves and say: ‘Oh, I’m not an asshole.’”

The “asshole” reputation stems from Uber’s corporate values, former employees and others in the tech industry said. For many, company “values” are the kind of corporate speak that rarely interferes with one’s day-to-day work environment. But at Uber, the emphasis on hustling, toe-stepping and meritocracy took on a more sinister aspect in the workplace.

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Leslie Miley, who’s currently an Entrepreneur in Residence at Venture for America and the former director of engineering of the chat app Slack, told The Guardian that he considers Uber’s “asshole culture” (his words) when interviewing job candidates.

“To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to work with someone who did well in that environment,” he told the outlet. “If you did well in that environment upholding those values, I probably don’t want to work with you.”

The description of the culture jibes with what’s described in the essay that sparked Uber’s latest series of scandals by the former engineer Susan Fowler. “It seemed like every manager was fighting their peers and attempting to undermine their direct supervisor so that they could have their direct supervisor’s job,” Fowler wrote.

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Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, himself the center of controversy time and again, responded in a statement that he wants to make the ride-hailing giant a workplace for everyone to work at. But the company’s myriad troubles are proving to have far-reaching consequences that perhaps Kalanick never imagined.

Update: This post has been updated to reflect Leslie Miley’s current job role as Entrepreneur in Residence at Venture for America.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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DISCUSSION

This seems idiotic to me. Who cares where the candidate worked? When I interview someone, the main question I am trying to answer “Is this person an asshole?” regardless of previous employer. I’ve done well in every company I’ve worked, include some fully stocked with assholes. That says that people are flexible and resourceful and find a way to succeed in any environment...not that they themselves are assholes.