Amazon was hit hard by The New York Times this Saturday, with the publication of a highly critical piece depicting the e-commerce giant as a brutal place to work where employees are treated with disrespect. But its staffers didn’t take the criticism lying down.
The Times reported that Amazon employees are forced to work long and hard hours, that employees sabotage one another to get ahead, and that “they’re encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings.”
In response, Nick Ciubotariu, Amazon’s head of infrastructure development, responded on LinkedIn, defending his company against accusations that he claims are wholly misinformed. Ciubortariu admits that he cannot attest to how Amazon operated prior to his arrival 18 months ago, but he refuted the Times’ reporting claim by claim based on his own personal experience. “I don’t want to be dismissive of the examples provided, but singling out several outliers to vilify an entire company does not represent truth in journalism,” Ciubotariu writes.
The NYT reported that employees had to work late, on weekends, and even during their vacations. If employees didn’t respond to a late night email in a timely manner, it was followed up with a text message asking why. Ciubotariu claims in his LinkedIn post that, to his knowledge, no one has ever been forced to work late or on weekends if they did not want to, and he has never been scolded for not answering an email after hours.
As for sabotage at Amazon, he says it’s simply not so. Managers have to corroborate employees’ claims against one another based on available data, and negative comments are not commonly thrown around. Employees either praise one another or give constructive criticism, and they are much more heavy handed with the former, according to Ciubotariu. Amazon’s praise to criticism ratio? 5:1.
Whereas the NYT reports that employees are “encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings,” Ciubotariu says that the company stresses treating one another with respect. He writes, “The Amazon described in this article may have existed, in the past. Certainly, I’ve heard others refer to “how things used to be” but it is definitely not the Amazon of today.”
In recent years, Amazon has faced criticism of the working conditions at its warehouses, at least some of which are managed by third-party contractors.