The New York Times's damning article painting Amazon as a "bruising workplace" continues to draw attention, this time from the government. The August 15 story, by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld, has put on uncomfortable spotlight on the retail giant and now, according to the AP, it has driven House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to assure the public that the company will be complying with various labor standards.
Pelosi went to Amazon headquarters in Seattle on Tuesday to talk about the Equality Act, which, among other things, aims to protect the rights of workers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. She also said that if the Times's article offered an accurate picture of what it's like to work for Amazon, the company's prevailing practices "won't be taking place anymore."
The article offered anecdotes, and a few quotes, from current and former Amazon employees. It described a place where employees were pitted against one another--and encouraged to secretly report to managers about under-performing colleagues--and work around the clock. Bo Olson, a former staffer who worked in book marketing, told the Times that he saw almost all of his colleagues, at some point, "cry at their desk."
Other stories portrayed in the article were more troubling for Amazon, such as the one provided by Elizabeth Willet, who worked out a different schedule with her boss after having a baby. When her colleagues, who didn't know she was coming into the office earlier in order to leave earlier, secretly complained to her boss, she told the Times she was reprimanded, and wound up leaving the company shortly thereafter.
The article stirred CEO Jeff Bezos to respond, as well. He told his employees in a letter posted on Business Insider (which he owns a stake in): “I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either.”
With over 5,000 comments, the Times piece has also drawn a flood of reactions from Amazon employees. One, Nick Ciubotariu, took to LinkedIn to defend the company, saying the article was inaccurate.
Indicating just how much the article has influence the Zeitgeist, it has inspired a string of pieces in the satirical news outlet, The Onion. In the latest one, a headline blasts that Bezos, in an attempt to remedy the situation, has assigned Amazon's HR department to work "100 Hours a Week" to address the problem.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the New York Times article about Amazon has, at the time of this writing, received over 5,000 comments. Several readers pointed out below that we initially reported that the story had received over 400 comments.