More than 20 anonymous Blue Origin workers, as well as former internal communications lead Alexandra Abrams, are accusing Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin of fostering a toxic workplace that allowed sexual harassment and discrimination and ignored safety and environmental concerns about Blue Origin's rockets.
In an essay published Thursday, Abrams and her anonymous co-workers accused the company of stretching teams past appropriate limits and demanding too many flights in a short period of time. The authors also wrote that the company denied employees' requests for more staff, support and time, despite its obvious necessity, and that "professional dissent" about both safety and the environmental consequences of rocket development was persistently stifled.
"At Blue Origin, a common question during high-level meetings was, 'When will Elon or Branson fly?' Competing with other billionaires — and 'making progress for Jeff' — seemed to take precedence over safety concerns that would have slowed down the schedule," Abrams wrote. Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin have continued to squabble publicly with Elon Musk's SpaceX and Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic to claim Blue Origin's superiority and right to certain NASA contracts and investments.
The essay begins by detailing the behavior of executives who allegedly sanctioned or ignored allegations of sexual harassment and showed bias against women in leadership, as well as one executive who called people "baby girl" and "sweetheart" and was let go only after he physically groped a woman. The authors also accuse CEO Bob Smith of appointing a senior executive as a member to an important hiring committee despite multiple allegations of sexual harassment against the executive.
The essay also alleges that in 2019, all Blue Origin employees were asked to sign non-disparagement clauses in new contracts, and those who signed and those who didn't were tracked by senior leadership.
"Ms. Abrams was dismissed for cause two years ago after repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control regulations. Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind. We provide numerous avenues for employees, including a 24/7 anonymous hotline, and will promptly investigate any new claims of misconduct," the company wrote in a statement.