ACLU Gets the Attention of Disgruntled Amazon Employees

Wonder if Amazon drones can deliver better PR?

Amazon, the most valuable retailer in the country, recently became known as one of the most hated workplaces thanks to a scathing article in The New York Times. The company’s HR team no longer has time to obsessively check its own GlassDoor page.

Here’s an example of the editorial that has Amazon looking not-so-prime:

At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, 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 internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”)

aclu amazonAmazon’s home newspaper, The Seattle Times, became Ground Zero for a clarion call that was heard across the country. In the paper is a $20,000 full-age ad from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) looking to do the following:

The ACLU ad specifically encourages Amazon employees “who believe they were unlawfully penalized because of their decision to have children, or because they were caring for a sick relative or recovering from an illness of their own.”

The article, which characterized Amazon as a “soulless, dystopian workplace” got the attention of the ACLU–specifically its executive director Anthony Romero.

“If there’s smoke, maybe there’s fire,” Romero said in an interview. “Amazon plays an outsized role in the American economy and the American workplace.”

In case you can’t see it at the end of the ad/letter, Romero is serious about looking for examples:

“Amazon employees who believe they were unlawfully penalized because of their decision to have children, or because they were caring for a sick relative or recovering from an illness of their own, can contact us at GenderEqualityAmazon@aclu.org by October 1st, 2015, to explore the possibility of legal representation.”

Granted, the ACLU has never missed an opportunity to grandstand in the media, but given the vitriol in that Times article, do you think disgruntled employees need legal representation, or should they just listen to Amazon’s PR team and stop feeling so disgruntled?