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Mass firings at Uber after harassment investigation

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NBC News -

Heads are rolling at Uber.

Twenty people have been fired as a result of a Perkins Coie law firm investigation into allegations of harassment, an Uber spokesman confirmed to NBC News. The news was first reported by Bloomberg.

In total, 215 claims were investigated by Perkins Coie, with 100 resulting in no action, Uber confirmed.

Of those cases, 57 are still under review. In addition, two employees have been referred for additional training on how to improve their management skills. Five people were also issued written/final warnings, the company said.

"We talked to anybody who wanted to talk to us and thought they had relevant information," Bobbie Wilson, a partner at Perkins Coie and the lead investigator, told NBC News.

The dual investigations were commissioned in February after Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer, published a blog post titled, "Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber."

Perkins Coie got to work shortly after the blog post, focusing on individual workplace claims. Wilson described it as a rolling process and one that has included ongoing communication with Uber's leadership.

Holder's report is expected to focus on the company's culture and structure, making recommendations at a macro level.

Some of the claims in Fowler's blog post are still being investigated, Wilson said. She added that Fowler's case was not one of the aforementioned 215 cases.

"We haven't completed that investigation, just a mass majority of it but there are still a few little things I need to do. I won't come any conclusion until I have looked at everything and I have left no stone unturned," Wilson said.

In her post, Fowler alleged that she was propositioned for sex on her first day on the job, was repeatedly blocked from advancement, and found Uber's human resources department unwilling to take action on sexual harassment claims she and other female employees filed.

The blog post, which came on February 19, quickly ignited a firestorm, prompting Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to pledge a full investigation.

On Tuesday, Fowler tweeted her reaction to the Uber news, referencing comments made by board member Arianna Huffington and human resources head Liane Hornsey.

Wilson said she was given "unfettered access" to hundreds of thousands of documents and was able to conduct "scores" of interviews with current and former employees.

The cases span harassment, bullying and generally inappropriate workplace behavior, Wilson said. She declined to share the breakdown of the claims, but said the majority of the claims she investigated were not sexual harassment.

A source told NBC News that several senior staff members have been dismissed, though names have not been made available.

The firings are separate from an independent investigation completed by former Attorney General Eric Holder. That report is still with Uber's board's subcommittee. Recommendations from it are expected to come at a planned Uber staff meeting next week, a spokesperson for the report told NBC News.

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