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    20 Oct 2015

    Amazon Is So Nice to Employees, It Makes Your Personnel Information Public If You Criticize It

    Jay Carney, formerly head flack of the Obama administration and now head flack for Amazon, has issued another rebuke of the New York Times’ examination of workplace culture at the Seattle tech giant. 
    Carney’s latest strategy to proving Amazon is actually a nice place to work? Using personnel records to publicly shame former employees who went on the record with their experiences at Amazon. Let this be a lesson for all you Amazonians: Jeff Bezos and his team want to hear your complaints, but if you go public with them, expect to have any dirty laundry the company has on you to get hung up in the wind.
    Carney’s piece on Medium starts out with Bo Olson, a former Amazon employee who said he regularly saw coworkers crying at the desks around the office. Carney says Olson is unreliable because he was accused of defrauding vendors and falsifying business records—and quit on account of the accusations. Carney doesn’t provide any specifics on the circumstances of what the alleged fraud looked like, so we can only assume the worst, surely Carney’s hope.
    Carney claims to be raising issue with Olson’s employment record not out of vindictiveness, but because he thinks the Times could have gotten those records themselves had they only asked. By not asking for Olson’s employment records, Carney argues, the Times betrayed a bias toward the employees.
    The alternative explanation is that the Times really didn’t think an employee’s work history impacted their knowledge that crying was common in the Amazon offices, which is the only claim that Olson is connected to in the entire piece. Because, it doesn’t. Carney never argues that crying isn’t common at Amazon. His only point is that the person quoted as saying it—that is, saying something that countless anonymous and on-record sources confirm is true—should have been publicly shamed as a fraud.
    Carney also scoffed at an employee who noted how critical a performance review had been prior to getting a promotion. Carney argues the account is misleading, because the employee’s written review was all positive. Well, of course it was, Jay. The Times says he got the promotion. The point of the anecdote was to show that even in congratulating employees, managers could be sharply cutting. And, again, Carney doesn’t seem concerned with addressing the underlying point of the piece.
    Carney presents this information under the pretense that it shows the Times was sloppy and biased in their reporting. But it also has the effect of showing you’d have to be out of your mind to go on the record crticizing Amazon.
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