It hasn’t even been two months since Amazon CEO Andy Jassy took the reins from founder Jeff Bezos, but the company’s new chief executive is already facing a potential scandal. Two anonymous sources have accused Jassy of stepping in to overrule the company’s own HR department when it recommended that an executive be fired for discrimination — and Amazon isn’t denying it, reports Protocol.
The story goes that in 2019, a Black female Amazon employee accused AWS Outposts general manager Joshua Burgin of discrimination, and HR issued a report recommending he be fired. But Jassy fielded a personal request from Burgin’s boss, Charlie Bell, and decided to let him stay. (At the time, Jassy was CEO of AWS, Bell was a star cloud executive who also reportedly served as a member of Amazon’s senior leadership team, and Burgin was Bell’s chief of staff. Bell recently moved to Microsoft.)
Protocol writes that when it presented Amazon with “a detailed account of the events,” the company didn’t dispute it: “In this instance, we conducted a thorough investigation and took what we believe was the appropriate corrective action,” the company wrote.
Amazon told The Verge it didn’t have anything to share beyond that statement.
In July, Amazon pledged to investigate allegations of discrimination and harassment inside its AWS unit after 550 Amazon workers signed a petition accusing the company of fostering an “underlying culture of systemic discrimination, harassment, bullying, and bias against women and under-represented groups.” Five specific female Amazon employees also sued the company for discrimination in May, three of whom still worked for Amazon at the time. It’s not clear whether the worker who accused Burgin — and by association, Jassy — is one of those five, but Protocol suggests she’s suing as well.
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