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Uber's Stressed Out Special Investigation Unit Is Exposed In Confidential Memo

It's hard to believe, but Uber will celebrate its first decade in business in March of 2019. In that time, the company has disrupted the traditional taxi industry, made a ton of money, and — oh yeah — attracted no shortage of controversy.

Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that the transportation behemoth known as Uber sometimes struggles to keep its employees happy.

The company was founded by a couple of tech figures.

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Startup entrepreneur Travis Kalanic (pictured) and programmer Garrett Camp founded Uber after paying too much money for a private driver on New Year's Eve. The idea for Uber was born.

Uber first hit the streets in 2011.

Surprisingly, the company's initial launch in the Bay Area dealt exclusively with black luxury cars and actually cost more than a standard taxi. This was changed, and the company we all know and...well, some of us love...took shape.

Uber's early history mirrors a lot of Silicon Valley startups.

It went from losing over a hundred million dollars a year in 2014 to making over $1.5 billion in revenue in 2015, to even bigger losses the following year. It's been a tumultuous time.

It's grown from a seed of an idea into a massive company.

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With nearly countless drivers and employees, Uber has struggled at times to keep everything above-board. An explosive new report from CNN shows us that the employees in charge of keeping Uber safe are at the end of their respective ropes.

A confidential internal memo had the juicy details.

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The 26-page memo from an external consultant paints a bleak picture of the company's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) — the 60 investigators and 15 team leaders in charge of handling safety at Uber.

Things sound pretty bleak.

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Alarmingly, the memo said that high stress, low pay, long hours and burnout are such a mental health risk that the potential for employee suicide was on the table.

"Profound stress."

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The memo gives an idea of the makeup of the SIU team: young professionals, mostly in their 20s and 30s, many of whom have "law enforcement, investigations and military background."

The SIU deals with stressful cases.

They deal only with "Level 3" or "Level 4" complaints, as they're known internally. Level 3 complaints include assaults and crashes, while Level 4 deals with sexual assaults and even deaths.

The stressed-out employees didn't make much.

Despite their high-profile positions within the company, the leaked memo says that Uber paid SIU investigators around $18.50 an hour. Similar investigators at airlines and bus company make significantly more.

Don't get them wrong — they love the company.

The report was peppered with assurances from SIU members that they loved working for a hot company like Uber. But dealing with upsetting cases multiple times a day for low pay gets pretty tough.

CNN spoke to some anonymous former employees familiar with the SIU.

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One said they were treated fairly, even though there wasn't much opportunity for advancement. The memo attempted to address this, suggesting better training, career mapping, and quality of life stuff like exercise equipment and comfortable furniture.

Some of the specifics will make you cringe.

SIU members dealt exclusively with high-level complaints. But due to a lack of soundproofing, it was tough to show empathy. In one such case, an SIU member was talking on the phone about a sexual assault complaint when coworkers nearby loudly started singing "Happy Birthday".

Uber defended itself to CNN.

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They didn't rebut the substance of the memo, but they did go on record as saying that key parts of it weren't portrayed correctly, or may have been mischaracterized, by the memo authors.

Uber says they'll change.

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They're on record as saying they plan to implement "all key recommendations" from the memo. This includes training, counseling, better schedule making and overall improved working conditions in an effort to make things better for their employees.

It's an endlessly fascinating company.

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It's been an up-and-down ride for Uber in their early years. While they've attracted tons of controversy, they're still in the game — and, it would appear, never far from the headlines either.

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