Amazon Executive Fired After Upgrading Flight

Filed Under: Travel

An Amazon executive has filed a lawsuit after he was fired following him upgrading a flight to New Zealand…

Amazon executive didn’t want to fly coach to New Zealand

Marc Sadeghi was the global head of visual effects for Amazon Studios, based in Culver City, California. After accepting the job he became familiar with Amazon’s frugal travel policy, requiring a vast majority of employees to fly coach or pay for their own seat upgrades. That’s in stark contrast to much of the entertainment industry, where business class on many flights is the norm.

Sadeghi had a work trip to New Zealand, but didn’t want to fly in economy. He claimed to have back problems — scoliosis and sciatica — and needed more room to stretch out. Unfortunately for him, he was denied several times:

  • He told his manager that a 14-hour flight in economy would leave him in so much pain that it would take him two months to recover, to which the reply was that this is a “bummer”
  • When he talked to Amazon Studios’ head of drama production, it was suggested that he should try to get a medical clearance from Amazon, but that could take months, and he needed to take the trip right away

At this point Sadeghi got his assistant involved:

  • He had heard through the grapevine that you could get a free upgrade on Air New Zealand, so he instructed his assistant to get him on the free upgrade list; the assistant failed to do so, which isn’t surprising, since there’s no such list
  • He alleges that his assistant told him that another manager had previously used the company credit card to pay for an upgrade at the gate, and handled it internally afterwards, so that’s exactly what Sadeghi did, figuring he could handle it after the fact

Amazon fired executive for policy infractions

When Sadeghi returned from New Zealand in December 2019, he was asked to meet with a representative from human resources to go over some “allegations,” and he was forced to turn over his laptop and badge. At this point he was asked a series of questions:

  • “Have you ever asked your assistant to run personal errands?”
  • “Have you ever sent your assistant a picture of a cartoon penis?”
  • “Have you ever instructed your assistant to break policy?”

At this point Sadeghi realized that his assistant had “turned on him.” He had already doubted his assistant’s loyalty, as he noticed the assistant secretly recording him the day before Thanksgiving break.

Allegations included that Sadeghi had misused company funds, and had used off-color language. He argued that the company fostered an environment where such language was tolerated, even stating that he heard another executive refer to someone else as a “squirrelly c**t.”

A few days later he was informed that an investigation had uncovered a pattern of multiple policy infractions, and he was terminated.

Sadeghi has filed a lawsuit against the company for disability discrimination, failing to provide a reasonable accommodation, and wrongful termination. He claimed the investigation wasn’t fair, and that it was illegal for his assistant to record him.

My take on this story

What a story. A few things stand out to me here:

  • I didn’t realize Amazon had such a stingy travel policy, as it seems really extreme to not even offer premium economy on an ultra long haul flight
  • At the same time, if this guy was accepting a job where he was going to have to travel a fair bit, and if he had medical conditions that would cause him to take months to recover following a long haul flight in economy, shouldn’t he have checked with the company on the policy prior to accepting the job?
  • If he really wanted the upgrade he should have paid the difference himself, either with cash or miles; instead he relied on some imaginary upgrade concept (asking to be put on the free upgrade list), and then putting the upgrade on the company credit card because his assistant said someone else did that, even though he was explicitly told the company wouldn’t pay for his upgrade
  • It sure sounds like this wasn’t the guy’s only infraction, but rather that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back

Like I said, I absolutely think Amazon’s policy is ridiculously stingy, but it’s also on him to know the company’s travel policy before he accepts a job.

Bottom line

An Amazon executive was terminated after upgrading a flight to New Zealand with a company credit card, after being told the company wouldn’t pay for his upgrade. It sounds like there were some other infractions on his part that ultimately caused him to be fired, and this was just an easy thing to get him on.

The man is now suing the company for disability discrimination and more, so I’ll be curious to see what comes of this. Like I said, Amazon’s travel policy seems extremely stingy, but he should have also known that coming in.

What do you make of this Amazon upgrade situation?

(Tip of the hat to Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

  1. I lived in Seattle and work in tech. I know dozens of former Amazon employees that have countless stories like this. Amazon single handedly destroyed Seattle. Plain and simple.

  2. Air New Zealand has the economy skycouch concept. Maybe he could have gotten his superiors on board with that (assuming he flew with ANZ).

  3. If I understand correctly, he used his company card to upgrade his flight in violation of company policy. That would be a firing offense pretty much anywhere. The issue is less what he used the company card for, but rather that he used it for an unauthorized expense. I can’t say I have much sympathy for him.

    All that said, Amazon’s travel policy sounds ridiculous. If the company needs me to travel for work and be away from home, I expect to be flown in business class. I will work hard to find low cost options to do so, but, when push comes to shove, that is what I expect and I consider this to be a reasonable expectation. When I switched jobs a few years ago, I did not agree to come on board until I had confirmation that I would fly in business class. There is nothing unreasonable about asking for details on travel policy before taking a job and nothing wrong about getting a commitment on travel before saying yes.

    When I am flying in business class on the company’s dime, I see it as my job to do one of two things (or both): 1) sleep/rest so I can be productive on arrival; or 2) perform company work on the flight. It is not my personal free time.

  4. Ridiculous.

    Amazon employees flying international should be allowed to fly business. For domestic- okay coach is fine.

    But for long haul international, business should be allowed. Look at all the billions amazon is racking in profits. Corporate greed!

  5. you don’t get fired for one offense like that. They might use that offense to fire you but it’s never the only reason.

    Clearly this guy was not a fit for the Amazon culture (which from first hand knowledge is not great) and it caught up with him. Going from media companies and their travel policies to a Amazon will do that to you

  6. Does Amazon ask every employee that has violated travel policy about sending cartoon penis pictures? If not, then it seems like a few details are missing from his story.

  7. Drama production. Ironic. If he wanted an upgrade, then if it was possible he pay for it himself, out of his own pocket
    Simple . Many airlines offer special day of departure You can’t demand it

  8. Amazon is a retched company that has all but destroyed small and mid-sized businesses and helped create an engine of low paying jobs. Just watch the film Nomadland and you’ll understand. Sure it employs almost one million people worldwide and has become a source of great convenience, but it is an arrogant, destructive company in the end. As for Amazon’s film production company, the story isn’t surprising given the mediocrity it churns out. Amazon is one of the least philanthropic companies on the planet and does very little to advance social good.

  9. I can’t image over the past years the NZ flights have many people flying in the back, especially considering the NZ travel restrictions. My bet is a ticket in coach anytime over the last 12 months would have gotten him a full row.

  10. I imagine that the global head of visual effects for Amazon Studios, is reasonably well compensated (if not he should be working somewhere else). He should have put the upgrade on his personal credit card — chump change for him. Too bad that he thought the world owed him everything.

  11. The Amazon policy is ridiculously cheap. However, he knew what he was getting into when he took the job so it’s on him. Any employee would be fired for using a company credit card to upgrade without authorization, especially after he had been told he couldn’t, several times over. If I were a juror, I’d find for Amazon.

  12. This guy would not have been fired merely for putting the upgrade on the company card. Employees are generally asked not to place personal charges on a corporate card, but it’s not a fireable offense and is extremely common to have expenses denied or for people to put charges on the card when they’re unsure and reimburse out of their own funds later. Clearly they wanted to fire him and had ample cause here beyond an upgrade charge that should have been placed on a personal card. He’s making a wrongful termination claim and this piece of the firing makes him look sympathetic if he indeed even has a disability.

  13. Apple and Amazon are both creating content but Apple very much allows employees to travel in business class. So in term of the economics, to get the same quality of employee, Amazon must have to pay more to make up for the difference.

    I wonder if the unwritten rule is that at a certain level your income and stock grants are high enough that you need to pay out of pocket or do without.

  14. I fly business class because of health issues (for anything over a three hour flight), but at the end of the day, if my employer wouldn’t cover it, I’d either find a new employer or upgrade the seat myself.

    Acting unilaterally… not smart.

  15. Amazon isn’t just “stingy” with their travel policy – one of Amazon’s guiding “leadership principles” is literally frugality. This is throughout their company and talked about frequently, so it wouldn’t have been the first time this guy ran into this.

  16. If you have back problems take some pain relievers , get an aisle seat , stand up , stretch , and walk around during the flight. No one wants to be in economy on a long haul flight but then again no one is going to break company rules and risk their job just to fly first class. He could have paid $120 for a seat with extra leg room no ?

  17. @Gilmon…yes you can and do get fired for integrity issues. Had he just upgraded he could have possibly claimed ignorance. But he discussed with manager and did it anyways when he was told not to. That is an integrity issue and in my company- a very large company- would be an immediate termination.

    @ Lucky… Many companies no matter their size are strict with traveling policies. Would also expect Bezos to be frugal.

  18. I’m not sure if this is really the full story. Firstly, I agree with you, Lucky, that the “free upgrade list” sounds like something being made up … I can’t imagine someone actually beliving it. On the other hand side, I find it hard to believe that Amazon is not honoring a doctor’s certificate. This could potentially lead to damage payments, in case his situation deteriorates during the trip. Finally, why didn’t they offer him to pay the amount back or deduct it from salary. That’s at least how we handle unauthorised spending (admittedly, the largest amount I’ve heard of, was about 200$ and in this case it is probably more).

  19. I agree with @Darin. If the expense wasn’t reimbursable, they should have just charged him and told him it was a personal expense and it would be deducted from earnings. I think the issue is that his assistant turned on him and with the appropriate amount of evidence, the company felt like they needed to make a statement.

  20. wow what a bunch of whinier’s. First ( no pun) that is Amazon’s policy which if I am not mistaken is fully disclosed to any employee prior to or at point of hire. If this person truly had (doubtful) a medical condition they should have made that point at hiring. Then to ask an assistant to essentially break company rules essentially doing his dirty work ! Why is everyone so down on Amazon because they won’t fly their people in business or first? I am in the construction business with a office in Seattle and can tell you its tanking all on it’s own take Amazon out makes it worse. There are many companies already moving people out, look at my backlog of work tells that tale.

  21. Pay for the damn upgrade you cheap moron. You’re an exec at Amazon. If their policy does not pay for it, then just pay up. Too many entitled rich folks out there who cry for every dollar that goes outta their own pocket.

  22. I think your headline is misleading, he was fired because he used company funds to upgrade his flight which was against company policy, it wasn’t just because he upgraded. It sounds like if he used personal funds to upgrade there wouldn’t be an issue

  23. I have multiple friends who work for Amazon. Pre covid they traveled all around the world all the time and it was always in coach. Any upgrades was on your dime. This applies to everybody. Very common in tech firms – most of them arent paying for premium cabins.

  24. Right… I think the headline is a bit misleading. The firing wasn’t for upgrading, but multiple policy infractions. Amazon’s stinginess (frugality?) is well-known, and if you are accepting a job requiring lots of travel, I think it’s your own responsibility to understand the travel policies. I happen to work for another organization with an “economy-only” policy so, truth be told, I have zero sympathy. I have no doubt that Amazon, like all other major employers, has a detailed “reasonable accommodation” process if there were genuine medical concerns.

  25. The policy on upgraded cabins is pretty common. My company’s policy is if we upgrade we have to notify that we upgraded and explain how we did it (miles, we paid personally, etc.). We are only allowed to fly economy. More people have been suspended and fired for failing to tell about the upgrade than for upgrading using the company’s money.

  26. @LovetoFly. Why does your company care how you upgrade as long as you don’t use company funds (which would be pretty easy to determine)?

  27. Am surprised that’s Amazon travel policy. I hope Amazon execs are paid $$$ so they can afford to upgrade themselves.

  28. I work at a FAANG company and AMZN’s work culture is atrocious.

    Boys club, PIPs out the wazoo, and general penny pinching. If Bezos could treat the VPs and Engineers the way he treats warehouse workers without mass quitting, he would.

    The NYT article from a few years ago is accurate and nothing has changed.

  29. @Jason – most tech companies pay for J for intl travel. Generally no upper bound on price as long as there isn’t a cheaper alternative with a similr / better schedule.

    I used to always book the most expensive itinerary possible to maximize my mileage earning. This is years of working at VC firms, FB, Google, and various well-funded unicorns.

  30. Amazon execs are in fact not paid well on direct salary. Salary is well below what you can expect to earn elsewhere in Seattle for equivalent jobs. Amazon makes up for with restricted stock units.

  31. He could have easily requested an emergency asile seat. I’m 6’8″ and am always granted an emergency asile seat. As far as his lawsuit goes, I’m voting guilty on the first vote.

  32. I’m surprised Amazon wouldn’t allow international biz class for that level of employee. I realize if you’re talking rank and file (which is always me) being subject to coach only, but executive level is different.

    It’s a perk for all the extra time they’re expected to work (late nights, weekends, dealing with the “C” suite demands and Board members requests). They don’t experience a scheduled normal break like most rank and file employees. His excuse for being laid up for 2 months is laughable, he did it on principal. Once I pay for it myself, I’ll be expected to pay for it every time in the future.

    And he discovered his future didn’t last that long at Amazon.

  33. @iflyfar Agree about knowing a bunch of people with horror stories from AMZN, but the Seattle city council and the people who continually vote for them are solely responsible for ruining Seattle.

  34. I don’t have much sympathy for this guy. He should have done his basic due diligence before accepting an offer, and he sounds like a prima donna.

    On the other hand, eff Amazon. The Information published a survey last summer showing nearly a quarter of their software developers were actively looking for a job elsewhere. The only food they give their employees is bananas, which is a not so subtle eff you

  35. “ you don’t get fired for one offense like that. ”

    Unfortunately, Amazon does!!!
    Not mention to slavery warehouse section, even AWS is miserable!

    Foxconn probably treat their employees better than Amazon.

  36. I’ve read about all the horror stories about AMZN since the very beginning. Which is why I have never become a Prime member and try to avoid buying through AMZN as much as possible. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but I do my best to not do business with companies that treat their employees so poorly.

  37. One of the commenter mentioned frugality as one of Amazon leadership principle, and he/she is 100% correct. Their leadership principle page states ‘Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention’ which is absolutely true from first hand experience.

    Do other FAANG company fly their employees in J? Yes. Doesn’t mean that Amazon has to follow suit. Their policy worked for them. Their exception process also worked. Had a co-worker traveling with me to APAC, needing exception and was granted within less than 48 hours. Anecdotal evidence, yes, but Amazon eschews bureaucracy.

    Is Amazon business travel an exception? I think not. I worked for an Fortune 50 company before, and the policy was just as strict and as frugal.

    With regards to Foxconn treating their employee better. Absolutely not. Go to Foxconn Longhua or even their corporate office in Tucheng and then compare that with any Amazon warehouse and their Seattle office.

    John Cocktosin’s comment above, on the other hand, is 100% true.

  38. I work for a Fortune 500 company and our travel policy is to fly economy class. Exceptions are made for medical needs, ultra long flights (this includes being big or tall) and from my experience, requests are always reviewed sensibly. Any employee with genuine need would not have a problem obtaining approval for reasonable accommodation.

    While I personally find Amazon’s policy too restrictive, I am not a fan of breaking policies unilaterally or taking a “do now, apologize later” approach. Did this individual not realize Amazon was a frugal company before taking this trip? And what frugal company would not notice (or immediately investigate) a business class upgrade charged to a company credit card?! This is where his expectations went from reasonable to unreasonable.

  39. He could have paid $120 for a seat with extra leg room no ?

    When was the last time you saw an extra leg room on a seat (LAX-AKL) going for only $120. That’s how much a domestic leg room seat costs.

  40. As someone who works for a government agency that also has an “economy only” policy regardless of the length of the flight (as well as US carriers only), I’m glad we’re not the only ones being cheap, but at least we have good reasons to be cheap

  41. I tend to agree with Sean and others above, this doesn’t sound like it was about upgrading his ticket.

    A company travel policy violation doesn’t accidentally turn up a cartoon with anatomical features. I’d guess the assistant who ‘turned on him’ has a credible harassment case against the executive (and therefore the company). Dismissal the executive over a travel policy violation is the a pretense to address company liability from her claims of a hostile work environment.

    I don’t know if this man has a disability. It’s possible he has a medical need to fly up front on long haul flights. I hope he wouldn’t lie about it. At the same time, once you start suing your former company, you’re looking for a settlement, not getting your old job back.

    The value of an Americans with Disabilities Act and wrongful termination lawsuit is in the terms of the settlement. He keeps his company stock. He, the assistant, and the company sign a non-disclosure agreement to keep this out of the public domain, and the executive can now say he has never been fired or terminated for cause from a job.

  42. @john cocktosin Sorry, but the city was in a death spiral well before the homeless crisis. Amazon hired a load of employees with high total comp packages who then forced housing prices to sky rocket by virtue of demand. Old neighborhoods were destroyed by new high end high rise projects (eg Cascade neighborhood) leaving the area void of any personality. Yes, they destroyed the city. Lifetime resident.

  43. The Amazon travel policy is well known and is clear as day and while you may not like it, you are not forced to work there. They do not provide free lunch or any of the Google style benefits either.

    This person knew that and stole from the company to try to get around it

    The reason people work there is the challenge and yes the compensation. Salary there is not high , maybe $160K max , but with stock options a VP is easily making $700K , a director $350-400K

    based on his role , probably would have been smarter to pay for it himself or take another role that did not require travel

  44. Someone keeps defending Amazon for treating employees not really bad which made me eyes wide shut!!

    I have friends working in Amazon/Google/M$/Foxconn/Winstron/Pegatron.

    Google is by far the best among others while M$ depends on which team.

    Foxconn doesn’t have PIP pushing employees to suicide like what Amazon and Facebook did for so many years.

    Amazon is only better than Winstron and Pegatron who treat all engineers and workers like cheap slaves, not just slaves.

    I do understand Americans would try to defend American enterprise, but saying Amazon better than Foxconn is really like saying Earth is flat!!!

  45. Just a note of interest- USG and its contractors and grantees MUST fly economy on ALL flights. I have to pay for my own upgrades via points or cash. The only exception? Congressional staffers on official business. I found this out flying back from Central Asia, I’d paid for my own upgrade and saw the folks we’d met with getting on board in business class and asked and they seemed SHOCKED the rest of the USG couldn’t get business class even on super long haul. So, yeah. Be happy your tax dollars don’t go toward this. Except when they do.

  46. It sounds like there was a clear policy on place. Termination was warranted.

    Also, the assistant needs to be terminated as well. Sounds like that department has some issues and needs to be cleaned.

  47. Really stingy on Amazon’s part. Extreme and horrible, in fact. That said, he knew that was the policy. And you don’t charge stuff on your business card unless you’re sure that you can expense it. In the case of an upgrade, where he knew it was against the rules, he charged it anyway. And he asked for trouble. It sounds like there may have been backchannel talk going on there before any of this, so the upgrade expense was the excuse used to can the guy.

    He played this very poorly; if you know it’ll be denied, just pay for it yourself! Now he’s out of a job.

  48. I’m ok with the Amazon travel policy if Bezos himself flies economy from the US to New Zealand when on business.
    @Lucky, will admit when I first saw the word executive in the title I thought you may have had an update on the United exec who went missing back late summer.

  49. My husband is 6’6. Thankfully, his company allows biz for extra long routes or he gets premium economy special request otherwise. I don’t think you can fake being tall. Other medical stuff would be easy to make up whether true or not.

    I would never do a go around for something I wasn’t prepared to pay for though. That’s nutty.

  50. My corporate travel policy is anything less than 7 hours in one leg is always economy. While a connecting flight may entail a trip length greater than 7, it’s the “one leg” piece which means nothing really qualifies.
    The hubs is in Fortune 500 tech. Similar with a couple exceptions. US to Europe – premium economy allowed, US to Asia – business allowed. Anything US domestic is econ only.
    In both our cases, we have a corporate travel agency we’re obligated to book through. They also enforce the policies by not booking anything that breaks policy.
    Self paying upgrades — zero issues / zero problems.

  51. We are talking about human beings and not boxes of merchandise. Every company/corporation, etc., whatever you call it/name it, regardless of size should adhere to the following guidelines: traveling within USA- economy (employee reserves the right to upgrades using personal mileage); all international flights- business (again, employee reserves the right to upgrade to first class using personal mileage). End of story.

  52. Amazon executive compensation is beyond generous, not always hard cash but very worthy of a five-year stint. And this guy was pretty senior! Most guys I know are completely in tune with travel policy and have zero problems in paying for an upgrade, cash or miles. I’ve lived in or visited Seattle since 1959 and, aside from the scenery, I’ve found it to be a city without a soul. Amazon didn’t ruin it. Changed it for certain!

  53. C’mon Amazon people! How do you expect Besos to keep adding to his billions if you try to bypass his cheapness policies? It’s all about him and his big ego.

  54. The guy should have just flown economy despite informing Amazon of his condition and getting this in writing. Then gone off one sick leave on his return with his doctor writing him off. He would then have had probable cause and could have taken them to cleaners at a tribunal hearing at which point he would have probably had enough to retire. My hubby used to work for HP and they are complete tight arses also.

    @lucky you should do a story on companies that only have economy only travel policies.

  55. Ben (and other commenters) –
    Suggesting this guy should have gotten a different job and “knew what he was getting into” is the height of ableism. It effectively locks a person with a disability out of a job and an opportunity unless they’re willing to suffer debilitating pain. Considering that Amazon made billions during the pandemic, maybe they could start treating their employees like human beings?

  56. @Lara S. – you are incorrect about US government policy. Business class is allowed for government travel > 14 hours. Alternatively you are allowed to fly coach and take an overnight “rest stop” along the way. That being said some agencies either by policy or culture do not allow this even though it’s permitted in the FTR. Contractors can do whatever they want but they can only bill the government for travel as allowed under the FTR.

  57. Have worked for international airline for 40 years even if company allows business class some will always look for supposed free upgrade list to first(don’t we know who they are?)Always fun to see them on their own dime on family vacations in economy

  58. Many companies have this policy of not allowing paid upgrades. As for his health issues, My wife and I have the same health issues and have no problem flying in coach. This guy likely had a salary that afforded him to pay out of his pocket for the upgrade. This infraction would usually get you a warning and you would be forced to pay the company back, especially at his level. It sounds like he came from Hollywood where its ok to be a toxic boss, Amazon doesn’t tolerate that bullshit. Yes Amazon is unforgiving on some issues (I know from experience) but they are more than fair if you follow the rules,

  59. @Anastasia
    my wife and I and many others have the same disability and we sit in coach going to Asia and Europe. Other people do the same thing.

  60. Same policy for all US government personnel. If diplomats and military members can fly coach and do their jobs why can’t everyone else?

  61. Without truly knowing the circumstances, when employed it’s about respecting company policy at the end of the day, and going through the proper process if there are any disagreements. Sounds like the end was near for the guy, but I am no body to cast a vote if he was terminated properly or not or what Amazon superiors found to find cause. Great story! I am going to guess his lawsuit is going to settle.

  62. Wouldn’t get much done with 2 weeks strict quarantine in NZ if he was going for a production meeting or whatever for A====>Z. Err was that paid for ?

  63. Entitled. Anyone who thinks just because they are flying for work they should expect to fly business class. Please people. Y’all got Karen written all over yourselves.

    Second, clearly this is not the job for him and I think we all know he doesn’t have back problems. He sounds like that kind of guy. Appears not very many people like him so not surprising.

  64. If I was this guy at his salary, I would gladly pay for the upgrade myself. I am available to take his job and I will fly in coach next to the lavatory!

  65. Ridiculously stingy travel policy from the company run by the wealthiest man on the planet.

    On the other hand, he should have paid for it himself, made a request for a disability accommodation, then request reimbursement later.

  66. Amazon is destroying small businesses throughout our country. As cheap as they are you’d think the customers would have more savings. Everyone is speculating in the comments section here, me included. My take is that they are that cheap and wanted to have a canary, make an example of this guy. Granted he could of probably handed things differently, but they should have satisfied their accounting department with him paying the difference out of pocket and maybe a reprimand or letter of warning. As for the other “new” charges, I feel they are fabricated to support their questionable firing in support of their ridiculously cheap practices. Wouldn’t be the first time an assistant felt he/she could capitalize on their boss. If charges are found to be false I hope
    he sure and rakes in on Amazon’s sacred money. It would be great if that was the start of many more losing lawsuits bankrupting this greedy, detrimental company.

  67. He makes enough money, he should have simply paid for an upgrade. Amazon also makes a ton of money, stop being so cheap. A long flight such as that, should be business or first class. Hell stay home and Zoom for your meeting.. Would save company tons. Then Amazon, you can pay you the lower level employees more..

  68. I’m surprised that Amazon has strict policies like that while using a phallic looking symbol for their logo. We should start a class action lawsuit on how it offends people.

  69. Hard for me to feel sorry for the guy when I worked my butt off in a warehouse for far less pay than this guy, and not only did I never get to fly business, I never got to fly anywhere at all on Amazon’s dime. I had to leave Amazon because I am a disabled veteran with a fused shoulder, and when I explained to Amazon that is why I had to leave shifts early and that I was struggling with the position I was put in, they didn’t care at all. Paying for some executive to fly business isn’t free. I would much rather those funds go to higher wages for the warehouse workers than to business class for executives who could pay for it on his own.

  70. I wish I had a job where I could go to New Zealand too. The guy knew what he did was against Amazon policy. He got caught. He got fired. Must have been a swell guy to work for.

  71. It was company policy, and the executive was aware of the rules for flying! And using his back issues as a crutch. Not good. He , Executive was aware of the 14 hour flight. And needed to either pay the difference or relax and enjoy his flight in economy seating that Amazon covered the price. Sounds like to me he is the squirrelly c**t. He should have been terminated!!

  72. It’s insane how little this author and critics in this comment section know in regards to ADA laws, not to mention that the moment he asked for an upgrade Amazon should have initiated an interactive process.

    By not doing so they’ve left themselves open to tort and their answer was to find any reason to fire him for insubordination. They will lose this case or settle quietly with non disclosures.

    This site should stick to travel, not HR.

    Some folks in the comments should get a better grasp on the difficulties people with disabilities face and understand this is another example of how it affects anyone regardless of their occupation or success. I imagine none of you know of the judge with lupus who had to sue California for accommodation because she needed to work from home when doing paperwork, but would assume she’s entitled for wanting to do so.

  73. This is about right for amazon. I was also let go unfairly due to disability discrimination. They put me on medical leave then when I was cleared to return, they didn’t want to cover the time I was out. Amazon may pay pretty good, but are lacking in other areas. All they care about is making money and not the employees.

  74. If he had siatica and back issues the turbulent jolt from the airplane by itself can further aggravate his siatica condition, so he shouldn’t be flying on an airplane without a doctor’s consent. Landing is where the jolt happens, especially during hard landings. Bad turbulence could be horrible for his back.
    They could accommodate him perhaps by doing conferences via teams or zoom, and of course having special office equipment.

    Did he disclose his back/spine issues? Probably not. This may be grounds also for termination. Amazon would have seen hiim as a high risk for workers comp case.
    I would agree, if you wanted to upgrade then he should have paid out of his pocket, and deduct that when he files for his taxes.
    Sounds like both Amazon and the employee are both frugal.

  75. Actually, the “bottom line” is that those with disabilities are entitled to equal employment access where reasonable accommodation can be made. Amazon could afford to provide reasonable accommodation. Problem is.. he used their card against policy. What he should have done was notify the company he could not travel until their internal review to approve his business-class needs was complete; if they then terminated him, it would be unlawful. They’d have to either pay for business class while the issue was pending, or allow him to retain his rank and salary and relocate him to another equal role without impairing his future prospects.

  76. Sounds like the assistant was out to get him. Don’t know enough of the back story to say if he was singled out or what’s fair or unfair.

    I know some say that he should have made sure or negotiated that he’d fly business class. However, I disagree. Maybe he assumed business class was the norm, or that he wouldn’t travel so far. Either way, neither here nor there.

    The one thing that sticks out to me, and that I didn’t see mentioned is did they ask him to reimburse the upgrade charge? He has the company card to use for work travel. Emergencies happen. He got denied, but chose to upgrade. That should be on him unless he’s able to appeal. However, he should have been given the opportunity to pay off the upgrade charge. Now if they did and said no, then he should be terminated.

  77. Simply put, I have a hard time feeling sorry for someone who is/was probably making six figures; probably should have budgeted better, so they could afford the upgrade out of their own pocket.

  78. Amazon is not a single massive profit making entity. There is AWS and Advertising, highly profitable arms, then there is everything else, which operate on razor thin margins.

    When most people think of Amazon they are thinking of the barely profitable entity, package delivery, prime, Alexa, Kindle, etc … . It makes sense within these parts of the organization to have frugal travel policies.

    Amazon started out as a company based on cost cutting and efficiency. The vast majority of its several hundred thousand employees still need to operate under those same principles to remain viable business operations.

  79. I have a bad back and I pay for my upgrades myself when they’re outside policy. And when I was a fed, I said ‘don’t send me on international trips.’ Companies have stingy travel polices because we all know that business costs multiples of coach. And not paying for business is one of the best ways to stop frivolous business travel.

    At my first employer when we changed the policy to have the first two round trips per year in coach for everyone, costs dropped precipitously, because all the hangers-on stopped making trips. Before that I remember booking a trip to Singapore for meetings and suddenly my boss and his boss needed to join meetings on a project they’d never been involved with.

    Companies are critical of doctor’s notes because most employees can find someone (primary care doc, acupuncturist, chiropractor…) who will write a note for them. I probably could have brought in proof that I’d had surgery, but I didn’t want to be that person and I was able to structure my job to not have to. I don’t disagree that accommodations should be made for people with disabilities. But we can’t do it until we find ways to stop people from gaming the system (see emotional support animals…) at least when it comes to a difficult to quantify solution like chronic pain.

    Also, he’s lucky he didn’t work for the government. He would have been charged with a crime along with being fired.

  80. In order to claim disability discrimination he would have to have proof of his disability from a doctor, & it must be a disability covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. Anyone can claim to have a disability in order to aquire an upgrade to business class. Proving it with documentation prior to your request is the only way to cover your ass & allow for a discrimination lawsuit if denied.

  81. So Amazon saves money by only paying for the cheap seats…big deal. If a required upgrade was such a big deal, he should have paid out of pocket and requested reimbursement after the fact – if it was a medical accommodation.

  82. An exec at Amazon makes over 250k. If he was in so much pain, he could pay the difference in his own.

    Many times I fly for work, if I were to go first class I KNOW I have to pay on my own dime.

    Also for those who never tried first class… You gotta try it at least once.

  83. His mingy assistant was clearly on a crusade to get him sacked.
    Firstly, he should have paid for his upgrade given the company’s travel policy.
    Secondly, he should be out to destroy the little bitch who got him fired.

  84. I took business trips to and from China about 20 times when I worked for Kodak. Business class a few times, and then the policy was changed to coach. I got used to it. I’m 6 ft tall, so it was not roomy, but on long flights, you need to get up and move around every hour or two. As for Amazon, I admire the company, and I’m a huge customer. They can set any policies they want, as long as they’re legal. Prospective employees have a right to accept or reject offers. If Amazon cannot attract and retain good employees, they can change their policies.

  85. Is the author not going to address the issue of sending cartoon penis pictures to his female assistant or ordering her to break company policy? This is clearly unprofessional behavior under any circumstances. She most likely was recording him so that she had proof of his violations and she might have feared she wouldn’t have been taken seriously otherwise. Kudos to Amazon for acting on the information presented to them. Many companies don’t.

  86. From the questions asked of him it sounds like his assistant didn’t so much “turn” on him, as that she felt she was being harassed or that his supervisory behavior was out of bounds. The unauthorized upgrade was very likely only one of the reasons for his firing, and most likely not the most important one.

  87. Amazon is scum. Bezos should be in prison. Amazon could have saved 100,000’s of lives by assisting the Fed Govt in getting vaccines delivered. Amazon has helped put hundreds of small businesses out of business. Biden’s new Communist Government should liberate Amazon for the people and send Bezos and all of his command staff to reeducation camp immediately.

  88. If he has back issues and requested an accommodation, then the upgrade should have been allowed. ADA requires that companies offer reasonable accommodations for disabilities, and there’s very little which wouldn’t be considered reasonable for a multi billion dollar company like Amazon. It does sound like this wasn’t the only issue, but his ADA claim seems sound enough.

  89. It sounds like they just wanted to get rid of this guy for whatever reason. Usually, in these situations, they would deny the claim, suspend his corporate card privileges, and make him pay the difference. I was in a similar situation when working for a state government. I did not charge an upgrade but I had airline ticket change and overweight baggage fees that I was required to repay on my corporate credit card.

  90. Sorry, I’m just tired of these stupid snowflake stories. It’s a fricken job, it’s their policy! If you don’t like the job or policies attached, either shut up and do your job or quit and find one that suits you.
    Here’s a stellar idea, quit and start your own business with your own fricken snowflake rules.
    Seriously isn’t there better human interest stories to write about, what a waste of good virtual ink, paper and real time.

  91. @Daniel Braunstein

    It’s unclear (at least to me) how long this person had been in the role. A global head of any function in a major company probably has a global travel clause in their contract. I’m surprised a medical issue requiring a reasonable accommodation wasn’t already on file. Or the executive wasn’t able to produce evidence of needing a reasonable accommodation like a letter from his doctor. The article is light on those details.

    The ADA is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation and ADA compliance is HR 101. I think it’s more likely we’re missing relevant details than the third largest company in the world accidentally forgot about it. The more senior the position, the more senior their HR support.

    As I said in a previous post, I think it probably goes back to the cartoons (and language) and creating a hostile work environment.

  92. 97.32% of Amazon lawsuits settle out of court.
    Attorney fees + Bad publicity =
    Settled torts save money and eliminate outlier jurys passing out huge awards. All it takes in this case would be 3 jurors who secretly hate Amazon.

  93. Who cares about the flight. The guy was drawing pictures of junk and showing them to his assistant. You can’t do that.

  94. I did not read all of the vast quantity of comments, but of the ones I did read, I was really surprised about something not being mentioned. To me, it’s the elephant in the room. First, I must say that as a customer I have LOVED Amazon, because I have some very bad skin infections that doctors in San Antonio could not care less about, & Amazon can get me what I realize I need FAST, so that I can try to settle my feet down, & go to sleep or relax as quickly as possible. Pain that intensifies in a sitting/ reclining position can make one INCREDIBLY grouchy, & as if you’re on the verge of a stroke ( as one doctor said I was, but chose not to hear that the catalyst for the high blood presure was employment-acquired skin problems, while selling shoes at what was once my favorite department store). I could go on & on about how pain REALLY CAN make the sufferer feel like the world owes him or her big time, & how it probably diminished his ability to make the right choice: paying for the upgrade out-of-pocket. You see, I really do feel for the guy there, and as someone who hasn’t been able to work in 19 years, with NO compensation, & LOTS of expensive doctor visits, biopsies, etc., for which my husband’s insurance has paid only a fraction, when he was working full-time, I hate to add to that guy’s hell & humiliation, just in case there might be extenuating circumstances IN HIS FAVOR ( hard to imagine), regarding the penis.
    But about that elephant in the room: Am I the ONLY PERSON who is CONSTANTLY, INVARIABLY harrassed by Amazon to join Prime? I liked Bezos & Amazon enough to just choose the ” idiot” button, that I understood I was giving up a free trial. But then, I really and truly believe they went further, unless, as I’m sure they’d say, it was just a glitch. THEY GAVE ME PRIME, WITHOUT EVEN ASKING!!! I’ll call, eventually, and get ot removed. I already wrote, but I noticed I still have access to Prime, so they probably haven’t creditted me back the expense, after the free trial. Now if this employee
    has THAT happen to him— being charged for something he didn’t want, AFTER YEARS of telling them NO, I think if I were on the jury, I would say, “Jeff Bezos, grow up! If YOU take without asking, after being told ” No. NO. NO, NO, NO!!”, well, sure, I think the employee is reasonable to assume that at Amazon, the culture is, sadly, to TAKE. One leads by example.
    I still love the story of the early employee that told him, ” What we need, Jeff, is a table!” Being a billionaire has to make it difficult to relate to other people, sometimes. I think he tries, but he has short-comings, too. Give the guy an okay reference, maybe. Pain is a terrible thing.

  95. A few years ago a buddy of mine was working at a bank and did a lot of international travel. In trying to cut cost he was approached and given the option to continue to travel business class or fly economy and they would give him $2,000 for the inconvenience. He jumped for the latter.

  96. ADA requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations at the employers own expense to disabled employees. A 14 hour flight upgrade sounds reasonable. It also seems like his assistant may have fed him false/misleading information to set him up.

  97. I know that on job applications, they ask you if you have a disability. I believe that in of itself is wrong and it gives us the employer the ability to not hire you. But, the employer can’t force you to reveal your disability and must make reasonable accommodation. So, if this guy checked the box, that he is disabled, or the box, not to disclose, then I believe Amazon had to make reasonable accommodation for disabled people by law. Now, if the guy said that he didn’t have a disability, then he is lying now or then, and I believe his case has no credibility. Also, are all these “penis cartoon” allegations after the fact of the airline problem, and just a smear campaign, or were they documented before the airline problem. Personally, I think the guy should have played it safe, paid for the upgrade, and either attempted to get reimbursement, or sued for disability discrimination. As it is now, he needs a jury and it is a 50/50 case, because he ignored company policy and he was insubordinate. But, he has a disability discrimination and retaliation argument too. I think the case will settle.

  98. I can’t believe amazon wouldn’t pay for him to fly on a private jet. I’m sure all of you that are trashing them have bought from them( hypocrites). Amazons not killing small business. Small business feeling entitled like a lot of you posters, is killing small business. No one forced him to work there. Everyone has choices, and no one is entitled to anything. We all have the ability to make our own way

  99. I own a corporate travel agency and always struggle when a new hire to one of my clients is unaware of their company’s travel policy. It should be explained during the on boarding process, and if an individual has requirements due to medical conditions they should ask about the travel policy before accepting the job. I agree with Ben, the policy is stingy, but it’s their policy and kudos to them for enforcing it and not making exceptions. Many corporations have policies are ambiguous and enforced haphazardly.

  100. I’ve always had to travel economy when travel internationally. And it is horrendous. A 12 hour flight sandwiched in-between others particularly ones that seem I’ll is not pleasant. But I had to do it to make a living and certainly could not have afforded the upgrade.

  101. Disclaimer: I worked at Amazon.

    Pay with the corporate card then handle the matter internally has no problem at all. You can pay for personal expenses with your corporate card as long as you refund the company later.

  102. If he is legitimately plagued with disabling back pain he should have been given an upgrade. A lengthy approval process for physical disability is absurd.

    You don’t have to disclose medical issues for employment. Being asked those questions is illegal.

    A doctor’s letter should suffice for an upgrade for comfort for a lengthy business trip regardless of salary.

  103. Amazon has plenty of money, paying for the upgrade would have been a drop in the bucket. Them not doing it truly shows how much they think of their employees. In my opinion it’s absolutely ridiculous they terminated the man for this, I’m sure he could have paid it back which then would result in a “no harm no foul” situation. Now for the employee/assistant who recorded/tattle-tailed on the man, that was his choice. In any work environment, seriously DTA (Don’t Trust Anyone).

  104. It’s very difficult to find out the policies at most organizations before becoming an employee, so your statement that he should have known or asked for the travel policy before accepting the job is not realistic for the vast majority of people.
    Yes, Amazon is cheap and they try to keep their dirt covered up.
    Is possible to find much of you dig deep, which this guy didn’t do.
    He still should have gotten the upgrade at least verbally approved before going ahead with it.

  105. Well at least Bezos nickel and dimes employees at every level while he is sitting comfy as the richest man in the planet.

  106. I flew 20+ hours with 2 layovers with a herniated disc so bad I actually should have stayed home and had emergency surgery. (Had it when I got back)
    My back/leg/foot felt equally as bad after as before. His 2 months recovery from a long flight is bs.

  107. 1) He deserved termination misusing the company card. Even though it was for a good reason, he needed to pay for it himself and work to get reimbursed – not the other way around.

    2) His assistant is a joke and should be fired as well. Illegal recording is a serious offense.

    So in summary, there should be 2 open jobs at Amazon Studios. Hate to say it, but his lawsuit lacks standing for wrongful termination. Good luck to him in life.

  108. If you have a job …and get a salary…you should be able to pay for YOUR upgrade… especially since Amazon said no.
    Ps: I don’t think the penis pix and the backstabbing assistant helped his case…take the L,and good luck on the next one..m

  109. amazon is a low margin biz. where do yall think the money for a premium flight comes from?

    people think biz money comes for free, it doesn’t. Yall should be thanking amzn for having affordable prices. they do it by not wasting money on 1st class flights. he should’ve zoom’ed if he’s too much of a cripple to fly coach. or just upgrade to prem econ himself. executives can afford it

  110. Welcome to the “churn ‘n burn” of today’s World of Corporatism. Remember years ago when you opened your New Hire Packet? It always opened with a variation of
    this line, “Welcome to our team! At this company, our employees are our most valuable asset…”
    Well, you won’t see that anymore.

  111. Sounds like the assistant set him up. What’s the harm if he was planning to reimburse the company. Company should be fined for not accommodating his disability.

  112. I must confess I have worked for an employer who insisted on coach but allowed any suitable timing and direct routing.

    It didn’t usually take the work of a genius to find inventory in Y (non-discount economy) that was the same or more expensive than discounted business class and parlay it into a more comfortable seat.

  113. Is that tweeb Bezos flying economy, I don’t think so. I guess the travel policy savings supports the free prime shipping.

  114. The thought that he should check the company’s flight policy before accepting a job seems ridiculous to me. I have never even contemplated a company’s travel policy before accepting a job, like that is one of the furthest things from my mind. Also, asking about a travel policy prior to hire is probably going to be a red flag. If you run into someone who doesn’t like it? It could mean you aren’t getting hired.

  115. Very simple. Forget all the grey between the black and white. The fired employee is not trustworthy. He didn’t just demonstrate poor judgement…(a write up offense…), He misused company credit card. The man…is a thief. Digging a bit deeper…turns out he has other character flaws that wouldn’t fit in anyone’s corporate culture. Possibly he could use the downtime for self reflection, and course correction.

  116. I was a fraud auditor for several large corporations and busted a number of entitled executives for this same thing. Apparently they can’t fly coach with the peasants.

  117. I’m so disappointed in Amazon’s travel policy with all the billions raked in by the day. Is that executive too arrogant?

  118. Just retired from corporate America after 45 years, and 5 companies. Never heard of a policy where business or first class wasn’t authorized for international travel. Sounds like extreme corporate greed!

  119. Gee, I’ll bet everybody wants to be an assistant to such an outstanding guy To anyone that thinks they’re too good to fly coach but can’t afford to pay the upgrade themselves, “Pssst… you’re not that cool.”

    Also, you know you’re caught when the only reasoning you have left is, “Oh yeah? Well that guy used the c word!” Learn when to walk away much?

  120. I and my 7 yr. old grandson were hit head on by an Amazon Driver, my car was totaled, my grandson went to children’s hospital.I am a single disabled grandma…I was not at fault. But I sure got screwed royal. I now have a used car and payments are 240$ a month. AMAZON should man up! You hired the man that hit me. I DO NOT KNOW HOW YOU SLEEP AT NIGHT. SAD!!!!


  121. Wanh!!! Entitlement mentality is epic. I fly everywhere coach! And turn in the receipts. We even have to donate our miles to veterans.

  122. So company rules & policies were broken . In which that said employee knew about this policy before hand . He did not follow proper protocol and spent unapproved money . Most likely refused to pay it back when called out on it thinking he was right.. Typical left side snowflake, the writer of this artical was his room mate in college . Plain and simple break a policy , act a fool you get fired +1 to amazon . #fakenews

  123. Amazon won’t pay for anything. That is company policy. It is part of what has made them the giant they are.

    Secondly, I saw somewhere on the thread that an exec at amazon earns $250k. Nope. I am a low level manager and I am close to that as a package. An exec, with shares and sign on bonus, will be on $400k+.

    He was a greedy idiot. We get paid well at amazon (they get their pound of flesh).

  124. I suspect he got fired not because he upgraded using a company card, but because of other issues that his assistant had raised. I would be very surprised if people who worked with him didn’t raise the same issues as well. They just used this unauthorized upgrade as an excuse to fire him. Big companies like Amazon are so lawyered up and have a huge HR team. Every person who’s being fired would had been well documented per HR protocol. I highly doubt he would win in court. He’s better off spending that effort on finding a new job. I feel for his next employer, this guy sounds like a handful.

  125. This is a guess, but i reckon the cost of upgrading at the gate might have been more than the cost of a business class ticket bought in advance. He knew what he was doing was against company policy as was a dick drawing. If a company hires you and tells you their policies are shitty, you either accept or reject the job.

  126. If he really truly had a medical issue then an Exit Row would not be a viable option. But the unilateral action on his part in using the company card for the upgrade was where he was in the wrong.

  127. I think the questions are missing the point, fostering an environment where spying and denunciation are accepted practice surely in one of the most powerful company is really worrisome!

  128. in a management position. It would be in my contract that all flights domestic and international would be in first domestic and business internationally. i wouldnt take the job unless those terms are met….I would also be willing to take Amtrak coach in the covid 19 era.

  129. Theres likely more to this story. I think my only issue with the article is that it places the responsibility of the disability on the employee.

  130. Why do you think Jeff Besos is one of the richest man in the world!!look like Amazon is an slavery,that’s why I prefer to buy from Wal Mart

  131. HR should of terminated the employment of this loyal ‘assistant.’ What a way for pond scum to become tadpole status! As far as the Amazon culture, I’m sure that Bezos would fly coach to New Zealand. NOT! Losing his job over this? BS. Any lawyer would line up to take this case, especially with any medical diagnosis collaborating his narrative.

  132. Someone many comments earlier mentioned the Air New Zealand economy Skycouch as an option. I have flown Air New Zealand many times and I have even used the Skycouch option. It wouldn’t be an answer to this. Skycouch is one person having a whole row in coach and costs what 3 seats cost. It’s not free. And I am not tall, but Skycouch was too short for me.

  133. Yes. He set himself up for firing. I am retired now but my work required travelling on long international flights. I have sciatica and there were times I was in pain and I dealt with it. If the money hadn’t been good ( mid six) I would have left the company or transfered to a HQ position.
    Mainly I wanted to commend the co-worker who turned him in. Congratulations! You proved yourself to be sneaky rat. Management likes having their rats but I can tell you the rats don’t have respect from management. They are smelly little folks that do secret recordings.

  134. Unless this back problem started after he started the job, Amazon will show where he signed for the employee handbook where I am sure the travel policy is stated. The guy is like every other “exec”, overly entitled in his mind.

    Let’s get off trashing Amazon. Yes they make it difficult for small business. Yes they might be frugal. They lost millions for years. They are the only company actually changing the way business should be run, innovation is driving their success. Without Amazon the world would have been a lot worse from Covid cases the last year. My bet is everyone here that trashed them, uses them and probably has a Prime account.

    Stop hating success. Your jealousy isn’t pretty.

  135. Amazon should have fired the assistant who obviously set Marc Sadeghi up with the lie that using the company card could be “handled internally afterwards.” Some people play corporate infighting extremely well, and Mr. Sadeghi was clearly outmatched at every turn.

  136. He’s obviously a jerk (his assistant hated him enough to throw him under the bus) and clearly not very bright (the free upgrade nonsense) and lacks accountability (others used worse swear words) so he got what he deserves.

  137. Worked directly for the CFO at a wholly owned subsidiary of a Fortune 5. If you work for the Suits, you learn it is not about the salary, it’s the ‘compensation package’ and ‘preferred stock options’, so your take home or ‘net pay’ is not intuitive.

    You do not know the meaning of frugal until you are the sole software developer, tech support manager, compliance officer, lobbyist interface, and, of course, facilities manager for M&A (mergers and acquisitions) involving international travel.

    Travel policy was very clear:
    – Must Fly Company preferred domestic airline. Direct flight.. not possible.
    – Must use Company selected Travel Agency for international Economy class. No Fare Class (Y, B, Z) shenanigans.. or points, unless company flew you. Which is not possible, because the preferred domestic carrier does not fly international routes or codeshares… And your mileage account is SEPERATE from your personal accounts.
    – Must Reserve Economy class rental car.. that’s the cheaper one before Compact class..

    Once you ‘survived’ in economy, the Hotels were always 5-Stars, no issues with room service / in room bar tab, massive meal per diem. But man, that rental car rule.

  138. Well… Everyone’s sciatica is different. I can say that sitting in aircraft can be intolerable and once the injury is triggered, one may never recover. But after some time in a wheelchair, I have the same upgrade debate at home and never win.

  139. Wow, I guess I can’t knock my companies travel policy. We are not allowed to go more than $50 over the lowest fare from approved airlines. We generally get around that by changing times. But we also have an official policy of any flight over 5 hours or 4 time zones we can upgrade to business.

  140. Personally, I could care less about Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s travel policies. The guy had it coming to him for other reasons. The upgrade issue was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    He’ll lose his lawsuit and that will be the end of the story. If there were a real claim, dude should have filed an EEO Complaint stating failure to comply with ADA, (Americans with Disabilities Act) Requirements

  141. I work in the industry. Amazon has a reputation as probably the worst place to work in entertainment. Most people would rather work at an agency. Also I’ve known so many people like this guy. 100% hands down he’s a big headed a**hole.

    Amazon sucks. This guy sucks. Best advice is to probably don’t work with either of them ever.

  142. Seattle sucked long before Amazon got there. Just to clarify, (lived there most of my grade school years).

    Dude pulled some shady shit and deserved to get his ass canned. If he had a legitimate disability, with physician’s documentation, he should have written an EEO Complaint for failing to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. But if his disability is bullshit, his lawsuit is nothing more than scrap on the bottom of Bezos’ pet bird cage.

  143. The State Department forbids anything but coach class for US diplomatic personnel. Congressional orders, for the most part. So American diplomats, couriers, special agents, medical personnel, family members, all fly coach even for 15+ hour flights, often multiple legs up to and over 36 hours, in some of the most difficult and dangerous places on earth. Not cool.

  144. No wonder the assistant turned on him, he kept blaming the assistant for his screw ups. I’d be recording him too if he kept trying to throw me under the bus. Also, there’s a lot of, “Well, I heard X did it so I can’t possibly get in trouble for it.”

  145. “At the same time, if this guy was accepting a job where he was going to have to travel a fair bit, and if he had medical conditions that would cause him to take months to recover following a long haul flight in economy, shouldn’t he have checked with the company on the policy prior to accepting the job?”

    This completely defies the logic behind “Equal Opportunity Employer.”

    They are required to make accommodations for people with disabilities, and believe it or not, pain is still a real thing. So Amazon can absolutely refuse to BE an equal opportunity employer, but they can’t deny reasonable accommodations and then claim to be one. So they need to just let people with painful disabilities know, they’re not going to accommodate.

  146. This article should be about “how to avoid the obvious” for execs. Not about Amazon’s travel policy. Penis pics (Wrong!), offensive language in the workplace (wrong!) and pitting your admin’s loyalty between you and the company-also wrong! Then of course, using corporate funds against known policy. This guy sounds like a disaster. From the story above, Amazon couldn’t pull the plug fast enough.

  147. Flying Business on a long-haul flight (which can be 8, 24 or even 40 hours, if it’s a cross-the-world flight) is actually necessary: If you are travelling 20-30 hours, for the company’s sake, that means you are giving up private-time (you aren’t getting paid for the hours you are in another place, which is more than 8 hours a day), and putting your body through terrific strain. It may seem like a luxury, but it’s treating an employee like a human being. I’ve worked for employers that pay for an upgrade and which pay an extra-day for the flight-time which is fair. The one employer I’m thinking-of cancelled those privileges (it was publicly financed) a few years ago, and the gripes about the cuts were legitimate.

  148. Lucky, actually this type of travel policy is becoming the norm. I’ve work for 3 worldwide companies (on my 3rd now), and it’s “book the least expensive ticket.” Even when I fly international, I still have to book economy. I understand the company doesn’t want me booking a $10k RT business class ticket, but when it’s over a certain direct flight time, they need to give a little leeway.

  149. This moron should have known the policy and if it was that much of a deal breaker he should have sought other employment. I deploy expense report software and using a corporate credit card for a non reimbursable expense is a huge red flag and in this case it wasn’t used in error. He clearly thought Amazon would either pay the charge or at worst force him to do so. What he really got in turn was fired.

    I’m not defending the policy. Any company that forces someone to fly coach for 14 hours isn’t a company I’d work for.

    However, I’m sure there’s no shortage of people willing to take his job if it means flying in coach.

  150. How else does a company become a cost leader? Nothing to do with stinginess.
    I know a number of people coming from such backgrounds. They will do anything to maximze as long as it does not cost them..

  151. there is such an easy solution to this problem! And the reason he’s now suing Amazon goes to the same motivation: greed. You’re telling me that an executive of that level, with an assistant to manage his travel arrangements, doesn’t have the means to pay for his own upgrade? That’s absolutely ridiculous.

  152. Should have just paid it himself. I’m sure the cost wasn’t worth his job. As for the other allegations, seems Amazon was just laddering to justify their dismissal.

  153. There’s FAR more to this than an airplane ticket, but his actions regarding the ticket were dumb. He was an executive, could afford to upgrade on his own dime, and should simply have asked Amazon how to do that.
    That said, Amazon’s policy is beyond stupid. When I worked for a large international company, they allowed upgrades for any flight greater than 5 hours.

  154. I don’t blame Amazon for stingy policies. A company with so many employees, if they are not careful the employees will exploit every bit of perks given to them. They definitely can not operate like some small Hollywood firm with 100 employees. If it is so hard for people to work at Amazon, they should look for jobs elsewhere rather than sit there and keep complaining. Most of the horror stories you hear (and you hear a lot) because they tried to work the system and got booted. If he has a disability, he could have done most of the business over the phone and video conferencing or asked someone else to go to New Zealand for him or approach the human resources to tell them he is going to upgrade anyway ahead of the flight.

  155. If the employee was valuable to the company, This upgrade cost could be easily resolved by simple charge back. Unless there were other reasons that may not covered in this story.

  156. Amazon hasn’t been cost conscious with packaging, but they are with employee travel? The companies I worked for allowed business class for international travel, but often had a lower cap on lodging, meals, and car rentals.

    Employees need to follow company policy. He could have gotten a doctors note to not travel, and then send a colleague and/or attend the meeting remotely.

  157. Elitist crap. What about the other people who did fly coach? He should have said “Don’t you people know who I am?” Company rules are for everyone! Just like justice is in America, you wankers.

  158. Ah. Company policy is policy. You are bound to them as long as you are an employee. Every case is also different and thus treated differently. This will always be a gray area. Nowadays, entitlement becomes a source of mislead confidence in taking for granted decency, respect for rules and order for everyone. Just because someone may have gotten away for something does not mean you can do it too and get away with it. Follow the rules first but advise of your plans of reimbursement before the trip. After getting your proof of medical condition, if evidence shows that the condiihad been there prior. I see no issue of not getting reimbursed. After all, a proof is just a piece of paper. The trail of diagnosis will prove it. Any HR should and could have been accomodating to this unless the employee has other rules issues.

  159. But what about the alleged cartoon penis? Did he send a cartoon penis or not? Was it attached to a cartoon character? I don’t see how I’m supposed to formulate an opinion without these critical details.

  160. Boo freakin hoo! Poor little rich boy didn’t feel his sense of entitlement was properly massaged? Get a grip. My boss pays economy for our flights too, and we are welcome to use our own resources to upgrade if we feel it’s important to us. That’s why we are given pay checks rather than room and board.

  161. Amazon is a company that intentionally uses labor practices that are as close to slavery as legally possible. I would be very lower myself to working for them in an executive role, and anyone who does is complicit in the company’s treatment of its workers. I dont feel sorry for this executive, because he was already actively and knowingly profiting off of the suffering of others. Amazon is evil, and if you work there as an executive, you deserve all the pain you get, and more.

  162. Sure the policy is stingy and stupid, but the global head of visual effects for Amazon Studios can certainly afford to pay for his own upgrade. He knew the policy. Sounds like a spoiled brat to me.

  163. Having to pay your own business class upgrade is a first world problem. Sounds like a first class (pun intended) self-entitled jackass because a legitimate medical disability would be accommodated by statute.

  164. Taking what his lawsuit claims as fact is a bit weak. Even with his version of events the guy sounds sketchy as hell. Maybe wait for all the information to come out before passing judgement. Even with the one side of the story it really doesn’t sound like he was being fired just for buying an upgraded ticket.

  165. Amazon spends a lot of money at being frugal. And many executives mistake frugality as cheapness, so at this point it’s not being frugal it’s being cheap. The problem is that Amazon actually spends a lot of money at being cheap. Irony.

    Like in this case, the guy spent probably 3 days of his time (around $3000 bucks of salary) to get his exception approved, along with other approvers who had to work on it too. A business class upgrade perhaps would have cost $2000? So Amazon spent around $4000 bucks to save $2000 bucks. Well done Bezos and Jassy, in the long run, Amazon is going down, just a matter of time until a solid competitor comes in.

  166. Someone from South Korea – and the fact that some US/EU companies allow employees business class is surprising. Gives some perspective on how companies over the world operate. Most of the time, in Korea, it’s employees fly Economy, Directors/VPs fly business and CEO/Chairman fly first – no matter the length of flight…(some companies provide exceptions for South America – 24 hours one way). Employees will fly economy to NYC (14 hrs) and CEOs will fly first to Tokyo. (2.5 hrs) No wonder Korean Air still provide first class to PEK, HND.

  167. Travel expenses are notoriously easy to pad, and can cost a lot if a company has entitled execs like this guy. However, an enlightened company that wants effective workers at the end of 14-hour flights might rethink whether it is confusing “frugal” with “productive.” I have traveled all my life & it is more tiring and uncomfortable/miserable now than ever before. Sounds to me like a mean spirited and unenlightened company has hired a special brand of cheat who is also nasty to work with. Maybe now he can look in the mirror and clean up his act?

  168. Disclaimer: I know nothing about Amazon work culture, firsthand.

    If the person in question was disabled, I assume he would have already filled out “Request for reasonable accommodation” rather than telling manager he has certain health problems. If he hadn’t done that at time of onboarding or whenever this condition began, it’s his fault.

    Most people seem to be against amazon. Which generally would have been ok if they weren’t shopping from Amazon and being happy about saving a buck or two on everyday items.
    I actually want to commend Amazon. If they are being frugal, at least they are being frugal on each level. Many companies would make their associates travel economy, while executives business. That is more frustrating. Execs get paid plenty as is. Financially it’s no big deal to pay for upgrade with their own money.

  169. This guy blatantly disobeyed his superiors after being told several times (according to the article) that they would not pay for an upgrade. I imagine this is not the 1st time he has acted this way about other things too. He seems to feel he is entitled.

    I did not see anywhere in the article that he had anything from his doctor stating that he did in fact suffer from back problems – sciatica or scoliosis.

    My ex-husband has many medical problems. A couple years ago the family flew to Spain. We always fly economy. He just got the front row in economy and had loads of leg room. He used an elastic wrap around his middle and compression socks and did just fine.

  170. I’ve worked in Amazon corporate before and while yes policy is that they won’t cover business class or higher, it’s pretty common to use company cards to upgrade. Most people just reimburse the company later, though some (including me) never bothered and were never asked to pay it back. From the article it sounds like the PA was looking to get the guy fired and made note of his “infractions” in order to force the issue.

  171. It sounds like This guy, his assistant, and Amazon all have some listening and learning to do with just about everything communication-wise. They all also need to get their heads out of their ass. All of this could have been avoided insofar as the policy is concerned, but if you’re entitled to having things provided for you outside of policy, and you communicate it far enough in advance and can get an answer, going against the policy is a definite no. The assistant gave this gullible person false information, then allegedly “reported him” (that sounds suspicious on the assistant end and on his end (the allegation itself). It sounds like none of them were really conducting business and ultimately Amazon is responsible for the behavior of their employees insofar as do-they-stay-or-do-they go. I wonder if the Assistant got a promotion.

  172. Sounds like someone misused company funds for a known policy, and it was the tipping point for other improper behaviour of a bad employee. This article paints it like the fired exec is the hero for pointing out Amazon doesn’t want lavish perks BUT allows them at your expense (aka an upgrade is possible out of pocket). Along with possibly sexually harassing an assistant (cartoon penis? Who sends that?) I give the benefit of the doubt to Amazon.
    So there is a job opening at Amazon, along with this former “exec” is filing a frivalous lawsuit with a claim that discrimination against without merit. Perhaps this exec can take a slot with Trump & Co since he is all about deceit, using other’s money for his expenses, and suing everyone.

  173. So is the “disability” on record at the employer? If not, I think that claim is out.
    It was his job to know the rules.
    I would have checked up the chain of command, not with my assistant (ESPECIALLY if I was ALREADY questioning loyalty).
    This guy didn’t make good choices.

  174. He went against company policy, and acted unilaterally. He will never win a case due to that behavior. If he didn’t like the policy, switch employer or pay from your own pocket. By all means nevertheless, the company policy is dull in asking everyone to fly economy on company time. If Bezos can fly a 100m Gulfstream jet and it’s execs, and for a firm that has Bln of dollars in cash, this doesn’t make sense.

  175. I’ve flown US-New Zealand more times than I can count on work travel, and some for personal travel too, over nearly 20 years. Always economy class. I’m probably older than this spoiled brat of an executive, who sounds like his main job goal was milking the system. There are more deserving people in this world than him, making minimum wage, and nobody’s giving them a free upgrade. If he wanted the upgrade that bad, he darn sure could have afforded it on his paycheck. And if you don’t like your company’s policy, change it– the policy, or your company.

  176. My advise sir is de icer. Don’t work for Amazon. Don’t shop Amazon. The world would be better off without monopolies running are lives.. No Facebook, No Twitter, No Amazon and the world is a better place.

  177. I cannot blame Amazon for the rules they have in place! So if he has a long list of medical injuries that prevent him from flying then he should get another job. Once you know the rules and regulations of the company that is your responsibility to adhere to them. I think some of what he said is not true. He did not get fired because of his disability.

  178. His assistant set him up. She suggested putting the upgrade on the credit card and then turned him in. But the thing is, he’s responsible for what he does and he violated policy. When you do that, you leave yourself open to the consequences. Considering the other issues at play, his assistant may well have had good reason to stick it to him. But the long and the short of it is, he violated multiple policies.

    However, amazon may have some problems on their hands. He specifically requested an accomodations. It was amazons responsibility to address that. They blew him off , saying it’s a “bummer”. Once he told amazon that he was requesting it for a medical issue, they must address it, and in a timely manner. They can request medical documentation. They can offer an alternate accomodations if it’s reasonable. But they can’t just blow it off. If he can document that he notified them, they are in trouble. The other issues are beside the point. He will argue that they are pretexts. He can probably make them pay out.

  179. Charles: you are incorrect. The law requires amazon to provide reasonable accomodations to employees with disabilities. It’s quite clear. Amazon had a legal obligation to address that request. One he said he needed it due to a medical condition, amazon was obligated to respond. Most companies have a process but it is not considered a valid excuse that the employee simply asked rather than gli g through that process. Amazon had a responsibility to comply with the request or offer their accomodations process to the employee so once he made a request. They did neither. They blew him off. They should have known better. If he really has back problems, and they blew him off, they are going to pay some money. In fact, even if their excuses for firing him are totally legit, they STILL failed to comply with the law.

  180. So to sum it up:
    – regardless of the cartoon penis, and violations of company policy, amazon failed to address a request for a reasonable accomodation. They will probably lose that case.

    – firing him may or may not have been illegal retaliation. But the timing certainly looks bad.

    – don’t send penis pics to women at work. Just don’t.

    – he should have paid for the upgrade himself, followed the reasonable accomodation policy at amazon for future trips. If he was approved for business class travel, he could then discuss with amazon whether they should reimburse him. If they refused, he would have a decision to make on whether to file a complaint, accuse them of violating the ada and force them to pay damages or just let it go.

    With what he makes, it’s like you or I asking for an ergonomic keyboard. They refuse so we buy it ourselves. Then we go through the process, and get approved for the other couple items we asked for. Are you really going to sue over that? Then your boss retaliates and you have to go through all that. Yea, maybe you get a few bucks at the end, but is it worth it. The problem is now solved. After a few months the process went through so you got all the other stuff you wanted. BUT you had to pay 60 bucks for your own keyboard. Sometimes you need to know how to pick your battles.

  181. While it may seem like a stingy policy, it is not an uncommon one for many tech companies. Intel has a similar policy where they ONLY pay for coach, period. In these companies this includes CEOs, chairpersons, etc. they all have to upgrade on their own dime.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.