SEATTLE (CN) – The American Civil Liberties Union took out a full-page advertisement in Friday’s Seattle Times offering to represent Amazon employees who have been allegedly mistreated for taking family or medical leave.
The ad asks 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 Oct. 1, 2015, to explore the possibility of legal representation.”
The ad, in the form of an “open letter” from ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, references an investigative New York Times article published on Aug. 15 about Amazon’s employment practices.
The article described a harsh workplace where workers who take time off to recover from cancer or care for children are unfairly penalized.
In the ad, the ACLU said steps taken by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to address the corporate culture aren’t enough.
The ad read: “A recent New York Times article about the corporate culture and employment practices at Amazon has rightly raised concerns among the general public. While claiming that he did not recognize the company described in the article, Jeff Bezos nonetheless urged all Amazon employees to read it and to raise any concerns directly with him and with Amazon’s Human Resources Department.
“That is a welcome first step, but it is not enough. As the Times article makes clear, the demands that Amazon places on its employees can be especially difficult for those employees who are responsible for raising children or caring for ill relatives. In America today, those employees are disproportionately women.
“The Times article also reports that Amazon does not have a single woman on its top leadership team, and that its workforce is heavily male. The metrics, as Amazon would say, are clear. This gender inequality is not unique to Amazon but Amazon now has a unique opportunity to confront and address it by applying the same tools that have made it so successful in the marketplace: vision, innovation, and leadership.”
Bezos said in a statement to employees that the Times article “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.”
“But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero,” Bezos said.
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