Employers in the technology industry often get a lot of praise and press for the various perks their employees enjoy. From free lunches at Google to free laundry and dry cleaning at Facebook, the men and women who are lucky enough to land a position at a high-tech company are often the envy of many. That is, unless you work at Amazon.
While, in an effort to attract the most educated and innovative employees, many top U.S. companies have embraced policies that provide for a healthy work and life balance, a recent New York Times article about life inside Amazon provides a scathing and scary portrayal of a company culture which requires that employees put work first, second and third in their lives.
The article, for which several former employees provided accounts of their time with the company, depicts a company culture that encourages tearing down colleagues, working 80 or more hours per week and putting work before everything else. Accounts from former employees about their time working at Amazon include a man who admitted to seeing “nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” to a woman who was told by her supervisor that “raising children would most likely prevent her from success at a higher level because of the long hours required.”
Based upon numerous accounts from former employees, it can be argued that the average Amazon employee is routinely subjected to harassment, discrimination and unfair and abusive treatment. Given the nature of Amazon’s work culture and “punishing performance reviews,” it’s not surprising that a 2013 survey by PayScale found that “the median employee tenure” at the company is only one year.
Reporters for the story also contacted several employment attorneys in the Seattle area who admitted to receiving several calls from Amazon employees about the company’s practices and policies. The Aug. 15 New York Times article also got the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union who took out a full-page ad in the Seattle Times in an effort to encourage both former and current Amazon employees to come forward and join a class-action lawsuit against the company.
Source: KCPQ-TV, “ACLU looking to form class-action lawsuit against Amazon,” Alexandra Lewis, Aug. 21, 2015