Former Amazon editorial director says she was pushed out of the company after getting cancer on maternity leave

Another former Amazon employee has shared her negative work experience while at the company, this time in apost shared on MediumWednesday.

Julia Cheiffetz, who served as editorial director for Amazon Publishing from 2011 to 2014, said that she gave birth to her daughter in her second year at Amazon.

Six weeks later, she was diagnosed with cancer. She had surgery while still on maternity leave.

Soon after, however, she received a letter that said her health insurance with her employer had been terminated. She eventually switched to her husband’s insurance.

“I chalked it up to a horrendous administrative error but remain disappointed that a company of Amazon’s size didn’t have better mechanisms in place to prevent something like that from happening during an employee’s maternity leave,” Cheiffetz writes.

She was surprised by what happened when she was healthy enough to return to work.

After a five-month leave, I was nervous and excited to return to work, and I showed up that first day back with a big smile and a phone full of baby pictures to share. I figured I’d catch up with folks and get a high-level update on how the business was doing, since the strategy had evolved from the time I was hired. Here’s what happened instead: I was taken to lunch by a woman I barely knew. Over Cobb salad she calmly explained that all but one of my direct reports  —  the people I had hired  —  were now reporting to her. In the months that followed, I was placed on a dubious performance improvement plan, or PIP, a signal at Amazon that your employment is at risk. Not long after that I resigned.

Cheiffetz’ story is just the latest in a wave of accounts that have come to the forefront since The New York Times’ exposé on Amazon’s workplace culture was published earlier this month.

The Times article described a “bruising workplace” where employees are asked to harshly critique their peers, and those suffering personal crises are often pushed out of their positions.

Several other women — most of whom were quoted anonymously — spoke of being forced to resign after giving birth to a stillborn child, or like in Cheiffetz’ case, after being diagnosed with cancer.

In a response to the piece, CEO Jeff Bezos said that the account “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know” and that he would leave a company that had working conditions like those described in the story.

Business Insider has reached out to Amazon for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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