Amazon (AMZN) employees did not hold back after the New York Times published its story about the company’s “bruising” workplace, “Inside Amazon.” Many spoke out, some in defense of the company, others augmenting the Times’ piece with their own horrifying testimonies. Julia Cheiffetz falls into the latter category.
In her story about her years employed by Amazon, from 2011 to 2014, Cheiffetz writes that two years into her employment, she had a baby. Six weeks later, she was diagnosed with cancer.
After her surgery, and still on maternity leave, she received a letter from Amazon stating that her health insurance had been terminated. The company told her that it was simply a glitch in the system, and she was offered COBRA coverage, rather than reinstating her original plan. It was too little, too late for Cheiffetz, who had already switched over to her husband’s plan and stayed there throughout the rest of her treatment.
When she finally returned to the company after five months of leave, she was informed that all of her direct hires were now reporting to someone else. She was then placed on a “performance improvement plan, which Cheiffetz claims is essentially code for “your employment is at risk.” She resigned before Amazon could fire her.
Cheiffetz does not dispute other testimonies that defend Amazon, but she does say that they have mostly come from “male leaders of male-dominated teams.” Most of the women she knew at the company have left.
She addresses Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in her concluding paragraph:
You asked for direct feedback. Women power your retail engine. They buy diapers. They buy books. They buy socks for their husbands on Prime. On behalf of all the people who want to speak up but can’t: Please, make Amazon a more hospitable place for women and parents.