The American Civil Liberties Union took out a full page ad in Friday’s Seattle Times, asking Amazon employees “who believe they were unlawfully penalized” for family leave issues to contact them “to explore the possibility of legal representation.”
The ad comes at the end of a long week for the Seattle-based e-commerce giant. The New York Times published an exposé that painted Amazon’s workplace culture as “bruising” on Saturday, spurring debate from current and former employees as well as a record-setting 5,800 comments on the NYT’s website. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos soon weighed in to say he doesn’t recognize the company portrayed in the article, and even NYT’s own internal watchdog Margaret Sullivan wrote a column saying she didn’t think the story, which relied almost entirely on anecdotes, had quite enough proof.
Jodi Kantor, one of the authors of the article, told GeekWire during this week’s radio show that she sees a “kind of magic in the way employees have flooded social media to discuss what until now had been a pretty quiet thing.”
And now it looks like that PR nightmare isn’t over quite yet.
The Seattle Times reports the ACLU paid $20,000 for the print ad and another $10,000 for ones on other tech news sites.
The ad particularly takes issue with many of the hardships Amazon employees reportedly underwent because they were responsible for caring for children or ill relatives.
“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,” the ad reads.
The ad doesn’t explicitly threaten a lawsuit against Amazon, but it is a pretty clear sign the civil rights group is considering its options.
“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 October 1st, 2015, to explore the possibility of legal representation,” the ad reads.