Jeff Bezos denies “nightmare workplace” claims about Amazon

Jeff Bezos replied Sunday to a weekend article in the New York Times that accused online retailer Amazon of hosting a “nightmare workplace.”

Bezos distributed a memo to his 180,000 plus employees where he criticized the portrait of a “soulless, dystopian workplace” painted by the article and insisted that he does not recognize that Amazon. He also encouraged employees to read the Times article carefully and to report any such experiences to Bezos directly.

The article, called “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” was published in the New York Times on Saturday. It claims that it interviewed a hundred former and current Amazon employees that revealed aggressive employee review processes, quizzes on company principles and more.

“At Amazon,” reads the article, “workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meeting, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are ‘unreasonably high.'”

The article provides testimonies of negative workplace experiences at Amazon, which recently eclipsed Walmart as the nation’s largest retailer. For example, it tells the tale of one of Amazon’s former employees, Bo Olson. It claims that Olson lasted less than two years at Amazon, during which he regularly saw others crying in the office.

The article also claims that workers who suffered from illness or miscarriages reported being unfairly evaluated as opposed to being allowed time off since the company is so rapidly growing. In fact, for its 20 years in existence, Amazon has identified itself with an uncompromising work culture characterized by constant intensity. The first two words of a company motto are “work hard.”

Amazon employees came to the defense of the company following the publication of the article, claiming that although it’s a challenging workplace, it is not a bruising one as the article suggests. Nick Ciubotariu wrote on his LinkedIn page that he did not feel that the article accurately represented the company’s work environment. Another former employee named Jason McMahon also claimed the article did not reflect his experience of more than a decade of working at Amazon, adding that the article makes use of isolated examples to paint an inaccurate picture.

Current Amazon employee of six years, Courtney Hartman, says she has taken two maternity leaves and been regularly absent for doctor’s appointments and emergencies without negative consequences. Various employees specifically denied seeing anyone cry at their desk, although former employee Lisa Moffeit said she saw a lot of crying in bathrooms.

It remains to be seen what the retail giant’s next move will be.

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