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Uber fires APAC head over illegal probe into 2014 Delhi rape case

He was using victim's medical records to find out if it was a ploy by Ola to sabotage its operations

Alnoor Peermohamed  |  Bengaluru 

Uber

US ride-hailing company fired a senior executive who obtained medical records of a passenger who was raped by her driver in India, on the pretext of investigating whether it was a ploy by competitor to its India operations.

According to two reports by ReCode and The New York Times, Eric Alexander, who served as the President of Business for the Asia Pacific region was terminated on Tuesday after reporters began contacting the company about the incident.

Alexander's handling of the situation in India in December 2014 is a latest in the line of incidents that prove widespread dysfunction at the top management in San Francisco-based

"It is a shame that the privacy and morals of a woman have to be questioned in an attempt to trivialise a horrific crime. It is despicable that anyone can even conceive an attempt to malign competition using this as an opportunity. If this report were to be even remotely true, this is an all time low on morality and a reflection of the very character of an organisation," said an spokesperson in a statement.

of the 26-year old woman being raped by her driver in Delhi had led to massive repercussions for the company which was later banned by the Delhi government. The issue had brought up serious questions about the safety of ride hailing services, with people pointing fingers at for being so lax about driver background checks.

 

File photo of Aam Aadmi Party supporters protesting rape of a woman passenger by her Uber driver, in New Delhi, on December 8, 2014. Photo: Reuters
File photo of Aam Aadmi Party supporters protesting of a woman passenger by her driver, in New Delhi, on December 8, 2014. Photo: Reuters

While being publicly apologetic, some executives including Alexander believed that the incident was a ploy by Uber's local rival to its business in India. Sources at told ReCode and NYT that Alexander was already in India at the time of the incident and obtained the medical records of the victim and ran his own parallel

Despite the case being a criminal investigation, Alexander kept the documents for over a year before other executives allegedly got to know of it and destroyed it. In that time Alexander showed the report to CEO and SVP Emil Michael apart from numerous other executives, who tried to poke holes in the woman's claims of being raped by her driver.

The victim later settled with for a reported $3 million, reports said

Alexander's handling of the situation in India was one of 215 claims that law firms Perkins Coie and Covington & Burling are investigating at These range from misconduct, sexism and sexual harassment, for which even told employees it has fired 20 people so far and another 100 are still being investigated or have seen some type of action.

The NYT report said employees were surprised to learn that Alexander was not one among the 20 employees who were fired. More disturbing is that he was only let go once reporters began asking questions about his actions, despite Kalanick and several other high-level executives having knowledge of what he had done.

The incident in Delhi in December 2014 led to several widespread changes for India's ride hailing sector. While only was implicated, even faced the heat when the Delhi government banned all ride hailing services in the city.

A few other cities followed suit, leading both and to improve their background verification methods, introduce SOS buttons within their apps and even physical buttons in the cars themselves. Instances of by drivers of and cabs does continue to creep up intermittently despite this.

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