SAN FRANCISCO: Silicon Valley communications veteran Rachel Whetstone is being sued by former colleague Eric Alexander for allegedly "spreading false and misleading and/or disparaging statements" about the fired Uber executive, according to court documents.
The lawsuit is the latest development in Uber’s implosion that started in 2017 and saw it part ways with CEO and founder Travis Kalanick. Business Insider first broke the story about Whetstone, the ridesharing company’s former SVP of communications and public policy, and shared the court documents.
Alexander served as Uber’s head of business development in Asia from July 14, 2014 through June 6, 2017.
The incident centers around the sexual assault of a passenger by an Uber driver in New Delhi, India. Previous reporting by Recode and Bloomberg indicates Alexander was fired from the company for personally obtaining the victim’s medical records.
Recode reports Alexander investigated the incident himself because he "apparently had trouble believing [it] was entirely true."
However, the lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of the State of California in San Francisco, claims Alexander was targeted by a "smear job." It alleges Whetstone spread the stories that led to his termination. And it claims she broke her non-disparagement agreement with Uber and Alexander by sharing information with Bloomberg’s Eric Newcomer, Recode’s Kara Swisher, and other unnamed reporters.
The lawsuit states: "The articles falsely conveyed or implied that Mr. Alexander acted improperly in responding to the Jane Doe rape; that Mr. Alexander had obtained the medical records illegally; that Mr. Alexander took little care in his treatment of the medical records; and that Mr. Alexander believed the rape had been orchestrated by an Uber competitor. None of this was true."
Alexander is suing Whetstone for general damages for "loss to his reputation, shame, and hurt feelings," as well as for "loss of wages and employee benefits in an amount to be proven at trial."
In addition, the lawsuit makes several disparaging remarks about Whetstone, namely that she lashed out at Alexander out of "professional jealousy" and made several racist statements about minority groups.
Swisher responded to the lawsuit on Twitter.
This is hogwash from an ex Uber exec behaving badly. Yes, people of Silicon Valley, Alexander is actually blaming women for his downfall in the complaint, which paints a picture of plotting by them that is counter to extensive reporting on his actions. https://t.co/lyDXi60Fgi— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) September 13, 2018
The court documents state that Whetstone moved from Google to Uber around June 2015 and worked there until approximately April 2017, working as a consultant thereafter. She then joined Facebook, serving as one of the social network’s top PR bosses during its data scandal before leaving to join Netflix last month.
A spokesperson for Whetstone said: "The claims about statements made by Ms Whetstone regarding underrepresented groups are totally and utterly false."
* This story was updated on 16 September with a comment from Whetstone's spokesperson.