×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Amazon Exec Fires Back at John Oliver After HBO Segment on Warehouses: ‘He Is Wrong’

Amazon isn’t amused by HBO’s “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” most recent episode, which included a takedown of the ecommerce giant’s warehouses.

Oliver, in the show’s June 30 broadcast, broadly decried the low pay and grueling conditions of warehouse workers, and specifically called out “brutal” and “physically draining” working conditions at Amazon’s fulfillment centers — including citing workers who were denied bathroom breaks. “The more you look at Amazon, the more you realize its convenience comes with a real cost,” Oliver said in the program.

The English comedian/commenter accused Amazon of “creating a system that squeezes the people lowest on the ladder hard, and all the while the man behind Amazon” — founder and CEO Jeff Bezos — “is now worth $118 billion, more than anyone else in the world.”

Oliver did give Amazon some credit even as he singled out the mega-company. “Look, Amazon is not the worst actor in this industry. They generally don’t subcontract out their warehouses, and they made headlines last year for raising workers’ base pay to $15 an hour,” he said. “But being not the worst is a low, low bar. And they have huge influence here.”

In response to Oliver’s report, Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior VP of operations, posted on Twitter that the “Last Week Tonight” host was wrong — and called Oliver’s characterization of the company’s business practices “insulting.”

“As a fan of the show, I enjoy watching John make an entertaining case for the failings of companies, governments and most recently – Mount Everest,” Clark wrote in a tweet Monday. “But he is wrong on Amazon.”

According to Clark, Oliver and “Last Week Tonight” producers declined Amazon’s invitation to tour one of its facilities. “If they had they would have met the amazing people who work in our operations,” Clark wrote. “I am proud of our team and to suggest they would work in an environment like the one portrayed is insulting.”

While Clark took umbrage with Oliver’s overall portrait of Amazon as a company that treats its workers unfairly, the exec did not dispute any of the facts Oliver presented. The HBO host cited a report that seven pregnant workers had sued Amazon over the last several years after they were fired. The ex-employees alleged the company didn’t accommodate their needs, including requests for longer bathroom breaks. In response, Amazon said it has accommodated “thousands” of pregnant workers and that all employees are allowed to use the bathroom whenever needed.

The “Last Week Tonight” segment on Amazon and warehouse workers is available on YouTube at this link.

TRENDING ON VARIETY:

More Digital

  • Instagram

    Instagram Testing Hidden Like Counts Globally

    Like counts will be disappearing from Instagram all over the world starting this week: The Facebook-owned photo sharing service is extending its test of hiding like counts to all of its territories, Techcrunch was first to report Thursday morning. Instagram began hiding like counts for a subset of its users in Canada this spring, and [...]

  • Ted Sarandos - Netflix

    Ted Sarandos Says Disney Plus Launch Changes 'Nothing' for Netflix

    Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos claims he’s not getting distracted by huge competitors — like Disney — rumbling into the company’s streaming turf. The exec was asked what has changed for Netflix with the Nov. 12 launch of Disney Plus, which the Mouse House boasted as having signed up over 10 million users so [...]

  • Game Awards OrchestraThe Game Awards, Show,

    Game Awards 2019 to Play on 53 Cinemark Screens Alongside 'Jumanji: The Next Level'

    This year’s Game Awards, recognizing the top video games, creators and esports of 2019, is coming to the silver screen. In a three-way partnership, the Game Awards, Cinemark Theatres and Sony Pictures are teaming on a superticket program pairing the Dec. 12 live simulcast of the 2019 Game Awards in 53 Cinemark locations with a [...]

  • Lilly Burns Tony Hernandez

    Jax Media Soars by Amplifying Unique Voices of Auteur TV

    Jax Media has emerged during the past few years as one of television’s busiest and buzziest production companies. The New York-based company headed by four partners — Tony Hernandez, Lilly Burns, John Skidmore and Brooke Posch — has an enviable track record of scouting new voices and executing stylish shows on a less-than-stratospheric budgets. The [...]

  • Variety Digital New Leaders

    Execs From Endeavor Audio, Group Nine Among Those Leading the Way in Digital

    Every year, Variety seeks to identify the next generation of leaders in the entertainment business, looking for representatives in the creative community, film, TV, music and digital. This year’s group has a heavy New York focus: We selected executives from forward thinking companies such as Spotify, Group Nine and Endeavor Audio, as well as writers [...]

  • John Carmack John Carmack, Chief Technical

    Oculus CTO John Carmack to Step Down

    One of the driving forces behind Facebook’s virtual reality efforts is leaving his post: Oculus CTO John Carmack announced Wednesday afternoon that he was transitioning to a “consulting CTO” role this week, and devote most of his time to new challenges outside of the company. “I will still have a voice in the development work, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content