A nasty legal battle is set to play out between two former Uber executives.
Eric Alexander, the ride-hailing company’s former president of business in Asia-Pacific, has filed suit against former Uber PR chief Rachel Whetstone.
Alexander blames Whetstone for his firing from Uber in June 2017, claiming her “grossly misleading statements” both internally at Uber and to the media, “destroyed his reputation.” He claims she “harbored deep seated personal animosity” against him, was jealous of his close relationship with then-CEO Travis Kalanick and frequently made racist comments about several minority groups during her tenure.
Update: A spokesperson for Whetstone told TechCrunch the “claims about statements made by Ms. Whetstone regarding underrepresented groups are totally and utterly false.”
Whetstone, well-known in Silicon Valley for her comms prowess, also left Uber in 2017 and has since gone on to lead PR efforts at Facebook and now Netflix.
We’ve reached out to Alexander and Uber for comment.
Last year, Alexander was very publicly ousted from Uber after obtaining the medical records of a female passenger who was raped by an Uber driver in India. Alexander had reportedly been investigating the case himself because he believed the Indian ride-hailing business Ola was behind the incident and that the competitor was trying to damage Uber’s reputation in India.
Alexander spent just over three years at the company and was a close confidant of Kalanick’s.
The allegations outlined in the lawsuit, first reported by Business Insider, don’t seem to be connected, but rather are an attempt by Alexander to portray Whetstone as a vicious, jealous and racist former colleague out for his career:
Ms. Whetstone harbored deep seated personal animosity against Mr. Alexander over his perceived higher status within Uber, as well as Mr. Alexander’s repeated efforts to curtail Ms. Whetstone’s ongoing racist comments (culminating in Mr. Alexander’s public rebuke of Ms. Whetstone in front of another Uber officer. Given the contentious relationship between the parties, upon her severance from Uber, Ms. Whetstone took the unusual step of insisting on a reciprocal non-disparagement clause that specifically referenced Mr. Alexander by name. Ms. Whetstone thereafter proceeded to violate that clause by spreading false and misleading and/or disparaging information about Mr. Alexander’s response to the rape in India. Ms. Whetstone’s derogatory statements were made in direct violation of the non-disparagement.
The lawsuit provides several examples of racist comments allegedly made by Whetstone, including that “the Chinese cannot be trusted.”
Alexander says Whetstone also went to reporters — Bloomberg’s Eric Newcomer and Recode’s Kara Swisher were named specifically — and told them “false and misleading information.”
Uber’s past catches up to it
The lawsuit, for the most part, looks to be an attempt on Alexander’s end to clear his name. According to his LinkedIn, he hasn’t pursued any new opportunities since his well-publicized exit from Uber, and that’s likely not for lack of trying.
As for Uber, despite replacing its CEO and several other top-level employees following its no good, very bad year in 2017, the company hasn’t been able to shake its scandal-ridden reputation. The mistakes made under Kalanick’s reign have and will continue to catch up to it. And nothing, not even a rebrand, can stop that.