Blue Origin, the aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos, has been accused of fostering a toxic work environment by former and current employees.
Alexandra Abrams, the former head of employee communications for Blue Origin, released a letter Thursday alleging that the company's workplace culture "sits on a foundation that ignores the plight of our planet, turns a blind eye to sexism, is not sufficiently attuned to safety concerns, and silences those who seek to correct wrongs," The Washington Post reports. Abrams said she was representing 21 former and current employees.
The letter alleges that "numerous senior leaders" have been "consistently inappropriate with women," including a senior executive who allegedly was reported to human resources for sexual harassment multiple times but was still named a member of a hiring committee to fill a key HR role; in another case, a former executive was allegedly so well known for inappropriate behavior that new female hires were warned to stay away from him. The former employees also accuse "many" company leaders of "showing clear bias against women," alleging the company is "rife with sexism."
Additionally, the letter says that Blue Origin's culture has "taken a toll on the mental health" of employees and has led some to experience suicidal thoughts "after having their passion for space manipulated in such a toxic environment." Finally, many of the employees say their primary reason for coming forward was safety concerns. "Competing with other billionaires," they claim, has taken "precedence over safety concerns that would have slowed down the schedule."
Blue Origin told the Post it has "no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind," adding that it provides "numerous avenues" for employees to report misconduct and would "promptly investigate any new claims." It also told the Post that Abrams was fired for "repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control regulations." She denied receiving any such warnings.