Thursday, May 19

War veteran fired from Amazon for automated email with no chance to defend himself

Algorithms rate Amazon employee performance and report layoffs via automated emails.

Tima Miroshnichenko / Getty Images

Amazon, the world’s largest retailer owned by Jeff Bezos, leave your HR operations to machines, using software not only to manage workers in their warehouses, but also to monitor hired drivers, independent delivery companies, and even the performance of their office workers.

Personnel familiar with the strategy ensure that Jeff Bezos believes machines make decisions faster and more accurately than people, reducing costs and giving Amazon a competitive advantage., published Bloomberg.

This automation eliminates company personnel without even giving the opportunity to argue or defend themselves against robotic decisions.

This happened to Stephen Normandin, a 63-year-old army veteran who was shocked because he had been fired by a machine.

I’m an old-school guy, and I give each job 110%, ”said the affected person.. “This really bothered me because we are talking about my reputation. They say I didn’t do the job when I know very well that I did it. “

Normandin spent nearly four years delivering packages as a hired driver for Amazon, rushing through Phoenix every day, until one day he received an automated email announcing his dismissal because the algorithms that followed him had decided he was not doing his job. adequately.

The veteran deliveryman says Amazon punished him for things outside of your control that prevented you from completing your deliveries, such as gated apartment complexes.

The firing particularly upset Normandin, because he prides himself on his strong work ethic. He recalled that during his military career he helped cook for 250,000 Vietnamese refugees at Fort Chaffee in Arkansas.

At Amazon, machines are often the boss – hiring, qualifying, and firing millions of people with little to no human supervision.

The company of Bezos also shifts responsibility for HR operations onto machines, using software not just to manage workers. in your warehouses, but also to monitor hired drivers, independent delivery companies, and even the performance of your office workers.

Former Amazon managers say the company knows that delegating work to machines leads to mistakes, but they think it’s cheaper to trust algorithms than to pay people to investigate layoffs wrong.

Ryan Cope is another case, he was fired in 2019. He witnessed that there was no way the demands of the algorithms could be met. He drove miles down winding dirt roads outside Denver in the snow, often shaking his head in disbelief because Amazon expected the customer to receive the package in two hours.

“Whenever there is a problem, there is no support,” said 29-year-old Cope. “It’s you against the machine, so you don’t even try”.

When drivers confront low ratings, they don’t know if they’re dealing with real people. The answers sometimes don’t even include someone’s name to claim.

A former employee of a driver assistance call center said Amazon assigned dozens of seasonal part-time workers with little training to monitor the problems of millions of drivers.

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