It’s hard to believe that Jeff Shannon passed away almost two years ago. He was not only an important voice in the disability community, but also a gifted “crossover” media journalist whose work was recognized and supported by Roger Ebert. The part of his story that hasn’t been told yet, however, is how another media giant — Amazon.com — took unfair advantage of Jeff’s considerable talent, and him.
Jeff, a C5 quad, wanted to tell this story in NM but decided against it. He had signed a confidentiality agreement with Amazon that prohibited disclosure of the details of his employment. And, as was typical of Jeff, he did not want Amazon to feel bitter about hiring people with disabilities.
An Aug. 15 New York Times article corroborates Jeff’s unfortunate experience by exposing Amazon as having a high-pressure, at times brutal, work environment that encourages combative competition via a secret feedback system. Backstabbing for personal gain is, in effect, rewarded. Women employees report a high incidence of discriminatory practices. Employees work as many as 80 hours per week. “Purposeful Darwinism,” a former Amazon human resources director called it. The average work tenure at Amazon is one year. Jeff lasted three times the norm, but it took its toll.
“They really treat