Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Weighs Taking Leave; Key Confidant to Resign – Greg Bensinger Updated June 11, 2017 3:17 p.m. ET

Emil Michael’s exit would be among most senior of a stream of recent executive departures

Emil Michael stirred up a storm of controversy in 2014 after allegedly suggesting that the company should spend millions of dollars to investigate journalists who were critical.

Emil Michael stirred up a storm of controversy in 2014 after allegedly suggesting that the company should spend millions of dollars to investigate journalists who were critical. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News


Greg Bensinger

Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Business Officer Emil Michael is planning to resign as soon as Monday, a departure that would further worsen an already dire leadership problem at the ride-hailing firm, according to people familiar with matter.

Uber’s board on Sunday is considering the future of Mr. Michael and other executives, including the possibility of Chief Executive Travis Kalanick taking a leave of absence, the people said.

An Uber spokesman declined to comment, and Messrs. Kalanick and Michael didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The possible exit of Mr. Michael, who has been acting as a number 2 to Mr. Kalanick and is also a personal friend of the co-founder, follows the departure of Uber’s head of communications, a senior vice president of engineering, vice president of product and growth and its head of finance, among others. Uber recently fired the head of its self-driving car development, Anthony Levandowski, and is seeking a COO and CFO.

It is unclear whether Mr. Michael’s resignation is related to a report prepared by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and his firm, Covington & Burling LLP, regarding Uber’s workplace culture. The report is expected to have unearthed damaging information about inappropriate behavior at Uber including sexual harassment, retaliation, bullying and other matters, people familiar with the matter said.

Uber’s board of directors is set to meet Sunday to vote on Covington’s recommendations and discuss a possible leave of absence for Mr. Kalanick, who is still reeling from the death of his mother last month in a boating accident that also left his father seriously injured. The Covington report likely makes recommendations for new human-resource processes and trainings.

On Tuesday, Uber is expected to release a summary report of the Covington report to employees and the media, provided the board approves its recommendations.

Mr. Michael helped oversee broad strategy initiatives including mergers and acquisitions and fundraising. He joined Uber in 2013 from Klout Inc., which rates users’ online reputation, and had worked as an adviser to technology companies.

Mr. Michael stirred up a storm of controversy around Uber after allegedly suggesting in November 2014 to a BuzzFeed editor at a party that the company should spend millions of dollars to investigate journalists who were critical. His comments were condemned by Mr. Kalanick at the time who called them “terrible” and “a departure from our values and ideals.”

He also was aware the company’s head of Asian operations, Eric Alexander, had obtained the medical records of a rape victim in an Uber car in India while pursuing a theory that local competitor Ola had pushed the story to damage Uber’s reputation, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Alexander was fired this week after reporter inquiries.

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In Arbitration, a ‘Privatization of the Justice System’ – By JESSICA NAUDZIUNAS and POH SI TENG on  November 1, 2015.

When she bought her car, Tinker Martin-Bowen signed a contract with an arbitration clause that took away her right to a jury trial. Only later did she realize just what she had given up.

Deborah L. Pierce, an emergency room doctor in Philadelphia, was optimistic when she brought a sex discrimination claim against the medical group that had dismissed her. Respected by colleagues, she said she had a stack of glowing evaluations and evidence that the practice had a pattern of denying women partnerships.

She began to worry, though, once she was blocked from court and forced into private arbitration.

Presiding over the case was not a judge but a corporate lawyer, Vasilios J. Kalogredis, who also handled arbitrations. When Dr. Pierce showed up one day for a hearing, she said she noticed Mr. Kalogredis having a friendly coffee with the head of the medical group she was suing.

During the proceedings, the practice withheld crucial evidence, including audiotapes it destroyed, according to interviews and documents. Dr. Pierce thought things could not get any worse until a doctor reversed testimony she had given in Dr. Pierce’s favor. The reason: Male colleagues had “clarified” her memory.

When Mr. Kalogredis ultimately ruled against Dr. Pierce, his decision contained passages pulled, verbatim, from legal briefs prepared by lawyers for the medical practice, according to documents.

“It took away my faith in a fair and honorable legal system,” said Dr. Pierce, who is still paying off $200,000 in legal costs seven years later.

If the case had been heard in civil court, Dr. Pierce would have been able to appeal, raising questions about testimony, destruction of evidence and potential conflicts of interest.

But arbitration, an investigation by The New York Times has found, often bears little resemblance to court.

Over the last 10 years, thousands of businesses across the country — from big corporations to storefront shops — have used arbitration to create an alternate system of justice. There, rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients, The Times found.

Beware the Fine Print

This is the second installment in a three-part series examining how clauses buried in tens of millions of contracts have deprived Americans of one of their most fundamental constitutional rights: their day in court. Read Part I »

The change has been swift and virtually unnoticed, even though it has meant that tens of millions of Americans have lost a fundamental right: their day in court.

“This amounts to the whole-scale privatization of the justice system,” said Myriam Gilles, a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. “Americans are actively being deprived of their rights.”

Removing the Ability to Sue

A New York Times study of the increasing use of arbitration clauses in contracts, which has effectively forced millions of people to sign away their right to go to court.

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Thabo Sefolosha Opens Up About The Night The NYPD Broke His Leg – Greg Howard Filed to: THABO SEFOLOSHA 10/29/15 2:50pm


Atlanta Hawks wingman Thabo Sefolosha made news on April 18 when he was arrested along with his teammate Pero Antic at 1 Oak, a nightclub in New York, and charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstruction of governmental administration.

From afar, it’s a wild story: Milwaukee Bucks forward Chris Copeland was there separately that night, and got stabbed shortly as the club let out around 4:00 a.m. It sparked a series events that ended with Sefolosha getting arrested, breaking his leg, and missing the playoffs altogether. The first-seed Atlanta Hawks, without Sefolosha, went on to get swept in the Eastern Conference finals by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

On Oct. 9, Sefolosha was exonerated of all three charges by a jury in New York. A week ago, he sued the NYPD for $50 million. We didn’t know a whole lot else about the incident until today, when our friends over at GQ dropped a piece in which Sefolosha explains in his own words what transpired over the last six months.

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Gun control advocates hail ‘significant’ victory in Wisconsin gun shop case – Joanna Walters in New York Wednesday 14 October 2015 18.26 EDT

Decision favouring police officers who sued gun dealer believed to be the first such lawsuit successfully fought against the gun industry in the US for 10 years

Patrick Dunphy

Advocates for stronger gun safety laws have hailed a rare victory in a lawsuit brought by victims of a shooting against the gun dealer that sold the pistol used to injure them.

A landmark case concluded in Wisconsin late on Tuesday with a jury awarding more than $5m in damages to two police officers who were shot by an 18-year-old who had paid an older friend to buy a gun for him illegally at the dealership.

It is believed to be the first such lawsuit successfully fought against the gun industry in the US in the 10 years since federal legislation was passed to protect gun makers and sellers from legal action at the state and federal level.

It was only the second such lawsuit to get to the jury stage at trial in that time, with the other case having been found in favor of the gun shop in a court case in Alaska in the summer.

Patrick Dunphy, the lawyer representing the Milwaukee police officers who won the latest case in Wisconsin, said that they sued the gun shop for a wider cause than just their own.

“The goal was both to achieve justice for themselves but also for others in this community. We need to clean things up around here,” Dunphy told the Guardian on Wednesday.

He added that their unusual victory should give hope to other victims around the nation trying to sue gun shops or firearms manufacturers after a shooting, but warned that such cases face high hurdles and his clients won against the odds.

“If some gun dealers around the country realize that they may have their feet held to the fire because of the punitive damages in this case, then that’s a bonus. I hope they listen to this verdict,” Dunphy said.

The gun dealer in the Wisconsin case was shown to have sold a firearm in a transaction known as a “straw purchase”, which is illegal under federal law.

But the business and its owners were not prosecuted by the authorities for the crime, which would have been the role of the federal government’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). It was instead the victims of a crime committed by the man who illegally acquired the gun, who had to sue in civil court, Dunphy explained.

“Funds to the ATF have been dramatically cut. The major enforcement arm of the government has been gutted by budget cuts going back a decade. We were very fortunate in this civil case to have irrefutable evidence on our side,” Dunphy added.

The ATF has experienced severe pressure on its funding and personnel.

The firearms civil case in Wisconsin was brought by Milwaukee police officer Bryan Norberg and now-ex officer Graham Kunisch against Badger Guns, a store on the outskirts of the city.


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Judge: California Drivers Can Go Class-Action to Sue Uber – DAVEY ALBA PM

A federal judge in San Francisco  has granted class-action status to a lawsuit brought by three Uber drivers against the on-demand ride company.

The decision issued today by US District Judge Edward Chen means as many as 160,000 Uber drivers in California could join the case seeking mileage and tip reimbursement from the company, presently valued at $51 billion. The drivers can now collectively challenge the company on the main issue of worker misclassification—whether drivers should actually be considered employees of Uber under the law rather than independent contractors.

The decision applies to all UberBlack, UberX, and UberSUV drivers who have driven for Uber in the state of California at any time since August 2009. However, it excluded Uber drivers who work for a third-party company and more recent drivers who are bound by Uber’s 2014 arbitration clause. For now, Chen also did not grant class-certification for related expenses, including gas and vehicle maintenance.

“This decision is a major victory for Uber drivers,” says Shannon Liss-Riordan, the Boston lawyer who is representing the Uber drivers in the case.

“It will allow thousands of Uber drivers to participate in this case to challenge their misclassification as independent contractors, as well as to attempt to recover the tips that Uber advertised to customers are included in the fare, but are not in fact distributed to the drivers.”

In arguing against class-action status, Uber tried to show in court that the idea of a typical Uber driver was a false notion, meaning that no individual plaintiffs could truly represent the interests of all drivers.

“We are likely to pursue an appeal of this decision because it is based on several key legal errors,” says attorney Ted Boutrous of Gibson Dunn, the firm defending Uber in the case.

“The mountain of evidence we submitted to the court—including the declarations of over 400 drivers from across California—demonstrates that two plaintiffs do not and cannot represent the interests of the thousands of other drivers who value the complete flexibility and autonomy they enjoy as independent contractors.”

The Future of On-Demand

Judge Chen’s ruling comes as the debate around how to properly classify workers for on-demand companies is heating up. As startups like Uber and Instacart have gone mainstream, so have criticisms of the so-called 1099 economy. These startups often employ freelance contractors, a classification the companies contend is desirable because the work is more flexible than a regular 9-to-5 job. Some critics are calling for broader protections for these workers, who do not receive benefits like Social Security, Medicare, and workers’ compensation and cannot unionize. Others complain that classifying workers as contractors allows companies like Uber to save up to 30 percent of payroll tax costs, which gives them an unfair competitive advantage.


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