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How Low Can Uber Go? Here Are 3 Recent Revelations That Continue to Tarnish the Brand. The ride-sharing company has been reportedly accused of everything from negligent hiring to paying hush money to hackers.

By Stephen J. Bronner Edited by Dan Bova

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

It's safe to say that Uber's reputation is in the toilet these days, but apparently new revelations can still tarnish the ride-hailing company's name even more.

Just yesterday, San Francisco Federal District Court Judge William Alsup, who is presiding over Waymo's lawsuit against Uber over allegedly stolen trade secrets, delayed the trial after a letter detailing a secret effort by Uber to spy on competitors was uncovered.

Related: 12 Amazing Things We Learned About Susan Fowler, the Woman Who Disrupted Uber

"I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case," Alsup said. "If even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial."

That's a pretty stark thing for a judge to say during a trial, but Uber's alleged behavior gives plenty of cause for these harsh words.

All the while, Uber's recent image bruises have affected its valuation, which may come in at around $48 billion after Japanese giant Softbank offered a lower price to investors for shares of the company's stock.

Here are three diabolical acts allegedly committed by Uber that we've learned about in just the past few weeks.

1. Negligent hiring

Sometimes, bad apples slip through the cracks, but it seems to happen way too often at Uber. On Nov. 16, a California woman sued the company for allegedly not doing its due diligence on a driver who she says sexually assaulted her. The driver apparently had a documented history of violence.

Related: 8 Times Uber Has Tracked People

A class action lawsuit also filed that week accuses Uber of putting female passengers in harm's way by means of sexual assault and harassment. Another case is pending against Uber on behalf of a woman who had been raped in an Uber car in India and then had her medical records allegedly illegally obtained by Uber executives.

2. Paying hush money

Uber admitted on Nov. 21 that more than a year ago it paid a $100,000 ransom to hackers who had stolen phone numbers, email addresses and names belonging to 57 million drivers and riders, then kept the cyberattack secret. The company apparently tracked down the hackers and pushed them to sign nondisclosure agreements, according to The New York Times.

The payoff and subsequent plot was apparently done under the supervision of Uber's now fired chief security officer Joe Sullivan and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick.

Related: 16 Weird Things We've Learned About Uber Co-Founder Travis Kalanick

3. A spying and stealing operation

During a proceeding in the Uber-Waymo case on Nov. 28, two bombshell revelations were revealed: Uber trained employees to "destroy communications that might be considered sensitive" and had a division dedicated to spying on overseas rivals.

A letter spoken about during the trial and testimony of Richard Jacobs, a former manager on a corporate surveillance team at Uber, revealed that some employees at the company used Wickr, a messaging service that automatically deletes communications. The trial also revealed that Uber had a team that scoured coding site Github to find competitors' private code.
Stephen J. Bronner

Entrepreneur Staff

News Director

Stephen J. Bronner writes mostly about packaged foods. His weekly column is The Digest. He is very much on top of his email.

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