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Business Research Paper: Uber's Embroilment in Legal Battles

7 pages
1727 words
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Ubers meteoritic rise to the top, as US international technology corporation risks to collapse after the companys continued involvement in various legal tussles. According to the recent report released on Ubers workplace culture, it was revealed that the company had been found culpable of infringing some of the laws that govern the operations and management of the business. Consequently, at least 20 members of the Ubers staff were dismissed pending for court proceedings. Out of 215 claims which were investigated, there were 54 claims of discrimination, 47 accounts of sexual harassment, 54 allegations of unprofessional behavior and 33 incidences of bullying at the place of work. Retaliation, physical security, wrongful termination and intellectual property case are other legal issues that have tainted the corporate image of Uber Technologies Inc., ultimately impacting negatively on its market position. There is the need of exploring Ubers legal issues from the law and economics point of view.

Literature Review

Recent revelations attest that Uber Technology Inc. has plunged into managerial crises due to different ongoing legal issues the company is facing. Rob (2017) contends that Uber Inc. is facing multiple legal accusations which are detrimental to its profitability and general success in the industry. Some of the critical legal issues that have been raised against the company include practices such as sexism, tax, evasion, wrongful termination, unprofessional behaviors, retaliation and infringement of intellectual property laws. Cooter & Ulen (2011) contends that apart from efficiency and profitability of a given business, a firm should integrate elements of law and economics to its functionality thus facilitating prediction of future effects of policies on the operations of the company. It is demonstrated that Uber Inc. failed to comply with the requirements of the law and economics mechanisms, leading to the escalation of the legal issues that have hampered companys productivity.

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

Racial discrimination and sexual harassment are some of the factors which are discouraged as far as businesses laws and codes of ethics are concerned. Straus (1991) observes that the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 targeted at eradicating all forms of discrimination, especially in the workplace. This provision also emphasized on equal employment opportunities for everyone regardless of his or her background. The Civil Rights Act is a vital piece of legislature which continues to protect workers against different forms of discrimination in their working environments (Cooter & Ulen., 2011). It follows that employees should be treated fairly irrespective of their racial origin.

Sexual harassment is also another legal issue associated with global corporations. According to U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment or intimidation encompasses of all unwelcomed sexual advances or sexual acts which are likely to disrupt a persons performance. Sexual harassment involves offensive sexism jokes, inappropriate touching or display of offensive sexual materials at the workplace (Cooter & Ulen., 2011). Such acts are in direct violation of the employment law, and anyone found culpable, should be punished. For instance, according to employer liability stipulations, there should be a tangible employment action whenever the sexual offenses are committed within the companys area of jurisdiction.

Recent reports at Uber Inc. demonstrate that the company has violated different accounts of employment law. Olivia (2017) reports that Uber Company is facing a lawsuit from three Latina software engineers, who are accusing Uber of discriminating them by their skin color. It is highlighted that out of 215 claims which were investigated; there were 54 claims of discrimination, 47 accounts of sexual harassment, 54 allegations of unprofessional behavior and 33 incidences of bullying at the place of work (Olivia, 2017). It is alleged that people of color and women are undervalued and unfairly treated in Uber Inc. attributing to increasing legal tussles that the firm is facing regarding racial and sexual discrimination practices.

Mihacik (2017) avers that Ubers legal issues have been highlighted by sex scandals facing some of its employees. A woman alleged that Uber driver operating in India raped her prompting her to take a lawsuit against the offender and the executives who were found to be culpable for mishandling the victims medical records. Reports indicate that Uber acted swiftly by firing the driver. However, the companys then CEO, Travis Kalanick got access to the medical records of the victim. He was later accused of infringing privacy laws through intrusion and eventual disclosure of privacy facts (Mihalcik, 2017). According to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (SOA 2003), rape allegations are punishable by the law. This is an indication that corporation (including its employees) should refrain from engaging in practices which can translate into sexual offenses.

The reports published by Reuters demonstrates how various incidences of employee discrimination and unethical practices are manifested in the Ubers operations. Shu (2017) asserts that three Latina software engineer women opted to sue Uber after racially and sexually discriminated. It is claimed that Ubers evaluation or ranking system is unfair to people of color and women. The three engineers pointed out that the employee ranking system adopted by Uber Company does not utilize valid and appropriate performance measures. But instead, it is claimed that this evaluation mechanism discredits the efforts of the women and people from minority groups such as Latino, Indian American and African Americans (Shu, 2017). Such practices of racial discrimination and sexual abuse violate law that protects employees at their workplace.

Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is another aspect of law and economic which entails a unique form of property which business won. While giving their insight on the economics of property and ownership, Cooter & Ulen (2011) identifies various aspects of private property such as patents, trademarks, service marks, trade secrets and copyrights which form the basis of intellectual property. Intellectual property is an initial property which has been created by someone's creative mind. Intellectual property has similar features to real or tangible property, implying that it can be sold, owned, gifted or leased, just like it is the case with other properties (Cooter & Ulen., 2011). According to the laws of economics, intellectual property is protected against all forms of infringement.

The conflict between Uber and Uber also represented Ubers growing legal battles that have characterized the companys recent operations and epitomized increasing issues associated with intellectual property. It started when a talented employee left Google to work with Uber Inc. which prompted Google to commence a lawsuit against their former staff and the firm that hired him (Uber). The allegations of stealing trade secrets as well as infringing on the patent after employing Anthony Levandowski. While working with Google, Levandowski took a central role in Googles driverless car project (Lobel, 2017). According to Lobel (2017), the legal tussle between Uber and Google is reshaping the approaches adopted in automobile industry when it comes to coping with escalating levels of competition and protection of their intellectual property.

Cooter & Ulen (2011) contend that intellectual property (patent laws) have evolved for long and that the Constitution gives Congress the mandate of protecting both copyright and patents. This indicates that the enacted legislation on private property is meant to enhance the progress of science or useful arts through protection of the authors and inventors by granting them exclusive rights to their respective works (Cooter & Ulen., 2011). This provision was depicted in the ruling of the case on Waymo v. Uber, Judge William Alsup, attached to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California gave a directive that demanded Levandowski to return all 14000 documents which he allegedly downloaded before exiting Google for Uber Company. Uber was forced to suspend Levandowski temporarily from its driverless car project to facilitate his compliance with court order.

Ruiz (2017) contends that Waymo v. Uber changed the perceptions of trade secret law and protection. Waymo which is Googles autonomous car program had initiated a lawsuit against Uber. Following the proceedings of the case, Judge Alsup ordered that Uber could proceed with its experimentations with self-driving cars but Levandowski, its leading engineers, needed to be barred from the project (Ruiz, 2017). This scenario indicted the changing approaches on the intellectual property protection and the trade secret law.



Business Radio. (2017). How the Waymo-Uber Lawsuit Could Rewrite Intellectual Property Rules. Wknowledge Warton, 1-6.

Cooter, R., & Ulen., T. (2011). Law and Economics (Sixth Edition ed.). Pearson Addison Wesley: Per.

Lobel, O. (2017). Intellectual Property: The Uber-Waymo Lawsuit: It Should Be Easy to Poach Talent, But Not IP. Harvard Business Review, 1-6.

Mihalcik, C. (2017). Uber sued by rape victim after medical record scandal. 1-4. Retrieved from

Olivia, S. (2017). Uber Fires More Than 20 Employees after Sexual Harassment Investigation. The Guardian , 1-5.

Rob, P. (2017). Uber'S UK Nightmare: All the problems facing the ride-hailing app in Britain right now. Business Insider, 1-7.

Ruiz, A. (2017). Bold Decision! How Waymo v. Uber Could Change the Way We See Trade Secret Law & Protection. Bold Intellectual Property, 1-4.

Shu, C. (2017). Three Engineers Sue Uber Over Unequal Pay, Claiming Sex and Racial Discrimination. Tech crunch, 1-4.

Strauss, D. A. (1991). The Law and Economics of Racial Discrimination in Employment: The Case for Numerical Standards. University of Chicago Law School, 1-41.


Part 2: Analysis of Uber Issue

Ubers increasing legal battles are hurting its brand, and if left unsolved, the repercussions can be detrimental not only to the companys brand but also to its financial stability, ultimately plunging the corporation into economic crisis. Uber Inc. operates in an industry that is highly volatile as far as competition is concerned. Other key players in the transportation autonomous industry such as Google are implementing strategies which are meant to strengthen their brands thus seizing a significant market share over close rivals. This is an indication Ubers competitors are likely to capitalize on ongoing legal issues against Uber and the companys tainted image to weaken its market position. It can, therefore, be contended that Uber needs to resolve its embroilment in legal tussles which are adversely affecting its economic stability.

Significance of the Issue

Ubers Struggles with Regulatory Obstacles

The rapid global expansion of Uber Inc. is looking more vulnerable than ever due to the companys increasing struggles with regulatory and competitive obstacles in different markets. For instance, recently, police raided its European Headquarters in Netherlands, as part of the ongoing criminal investigations over its two top executives (Reuters, 2015). In Rio de Janeiro, a ban was imposed on the Uber services ultimately crippling the companys operations in most parts of South America. The Newly proposed regulations in London and Toronto will adversely impact on Ubers activities in these cities.

In 2015, Uber Pop service which is commonly...

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