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Senior Amazon Executive Sacked Because He Upgraded Himself On 14-Hour Flight

Senior Amazon Executive Sacked Because He Upgraded Himself On 14-Hour Flight

A senior Amazon Studios executive has filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court against the famously thrifty tech company alleging that its ‘coach only’ travel policy was discriminatory because his chronic back conditions prevented him from travelling in a confined Economy seat on long flights.

The issue came to a head in late 2019 when the newly hired Global Head of Visual Effects was asked to travel on a 14-hour hour from Los Angeles to New Zealand in an Economy seat.

Marc Sadeghi says he only learned of Amazon’s ‘coach only’ travel policy after being hired by the studio which makes most of Amazon’s Prime streaming programming and is based in the Culver City area of Los Angeles.

Sadeghi, however, suffers from scoliosis and sciatica and told his bosses that travelling in a confined Economy seat on long flights over five hours might be an issue. In general, Sadeghi says he complied with the policy but when it came to the New Zealand flight he did his best to score an upgrade.

Despite telling his boss Tim Clawson that such a long flight could leave him in agony and force him out of work for a couple of months to recover, Clawson apparently simply remarked that it would be a “bummer” without providing any further advice or guidance.

Another manager suggested Sadeghi get medical clearance for an upgrade but that process could have taken months – instead, Sadeghi had just days to prepare for his trip.

With little help from his superiors, Sadeghi had heard that it was possible to get listed by Air New Zealand for a complimentary upgrade. Sadeghi asked his assistant to get him on the list but just days before departure he learned that his assistant had failed to get him on the upgrade list.

His assistant did, though, suggest that Clawson had previously paid for an upgrade at the gate using the company credit card and then sorted the fallout using internal processes. With the weekend upon them, Sadeghi used his company credit card to pay for the upgrade to Premium Economy with the intention of sorting out any issues upon his return.

His assistant even allegedly told him that the budget for the project was being reviewed and that Premium Economy travel was being considered as part of the review.

But on his return, rather than meeting bosses to discuss his findings from his trip, Sadeghi was instead asked to meet with an executive from Human Resources who launched into a line of questioning that included:

“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?”

He was also accused, the lawsuit claims, of misuse of company funds – including for the upgrade to Premium Economy.

Sadeghi believes that his assistant had “turned on him” – an allegation that he wasn’t totally surprised by because he had previously caught his assistant recording him on a mobile phone.

Following what has been described as a “results orientated” investigation, Sadeghi was sacked from Amazon Studios with immediate effect for multiple policy infractions. Sadeghi, however, claims Amazon failed to provide reasonable accommodations for his disability.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday, demands a jury trial.

View Comments (21)
  • He probably should of used his own CC to pay for PE, then requested Amazonnneee reimbursement.

    But what a bunch of cheap a$$es Amazonnne is, seriously, what company doesn’t pay for biz class on a 15hr flight??

    • Frugality is a company policy, it applies to all of us. If you’re not a lard ass, premium economy and coach are fine. There is no problem at amazon if you pay for upgrades yourself, and most of us did if we wanted it. Thinking he was important enough to abuse his power and fly full fare on the company card is his own hubris biting him in the ass.

      • I disagree, your language is what the guy described at Amazon “Unprofessional.” CEO BEZOS has money coming out of every orifice and he has his executives flying 14 hours in Economy. SHAME SHAME on BEZOS. I will not shop AMAZON again with this cheapo making people fly for long intervals in Economy. I can’t believe what I’m reading. I hope this poor man wins his lawsuit. I fly to Scotland for 8 hrs every few years and the adjustment is awful. These workers should have as comfortable ride as possible and you worker bees should be supporting him, it sounds to me y’all are afraid to speak up for yourselves and are bullying this man for favors.
        Virginia Kennedy

      • So hes a manager or high up on the corporate ladder and hes had to take flights before he had plenty of time to request a medical waiver and or medical clearance he abused amazon policy and therefor should be sacked on the other hand i do not like amazon and i understand amazon is being cheap since they make so much money however i understand from a business standpoint the policy and u have to be cheap in order to make money in business so what amazon did was correct this guy went on how many flights before for this company and also what did he expect i mean when they hired u they told u what was to be expected so ya no regrets amazon is right in sacking him he abused his power by using his company credit card for unnecessary expenses totally justifiable.

  • Plenty of companies, especially ones with specific policies prohibiting such perks.
    If he had such a ‘disability’ then he would have planned for it in advance. It’s a form with a doctors note- and it does not take months.
    I would say taking the ‘advice of his assistant’ sounds thoroughly phony. At the very least, he KNEW THE CURRENT POLICY. He gave the company no cause to make an exception for him.
    If you’d like to continue getting travel upgrades paid by your employer, you are now free to seek another job.
    Seeking legal recource because of your self-determibed disability after you already acted like the rules don’t apply to you – well that sounds like more of the entitled attitude that got him fired.
    Have a nice day.

    • Exactly. Why would you use company cc for something that is questionable from the start. Simple email to HR to CYA would suffice prior to departure too

    • I feel that he could have handled his travel issues in a more straightforward way, but so could his employer. He should have asked for- and received- reasonable accommodations for his disability, no questions asked. A long flight without the ability to move or stretch would compromise anyone’s health.

  • I have a friend that flies to Europe quite for Google and they require him to fly first class for that long of a trip. As an engineer his trips are usually impromptu and cost $8,000 – $12,000 per round trip. Perhaps that kind of corporate mistreatment is why Mr. Bezos is the richest man in the world.

  • There was obviously more to this than him taking an expensive flight. This was likely the tail end of a long review process for inappropriate actions on his part, and they likely had him do the flight and meeting at for appearances and didn’t have anyone to cover for him. The tell is in his boss’ unconcern in regards to his issues. That level of nonchalant idgaf only comes from someone who has a reason to view you as garbage. That they followed up with a meeting about abuses of his authority pretty much spells it out.

    In all likelihood he had many complaints against him for his behavior and he was becoming a risk to the company. Amazon doesn’t railroad A-players.

  • I certainly hope he doesn’t win that stupid disability discrimination case . If he does, that says lots about our court system.

  • I was in home dialysis and was required to travel for my job. My
    Medical equipment flew free due to the American disabilities act, but I required a larger car to transport my dialysis machine from the hospital to my hotel. It was a simple request to the travel rep for my company and it was accommodated,
    No questions asked. I believe this guy thought he was a “big shot” and thought nobody would question his authority. WRONG. If there truly was a disability and Amazon was aware, they would have accommodated him without question. But you can’t ask for forgiveness you must ask for permission first. I don’t think they are being cheap at all. If you want an upgrade, pay for it or use miles or ask at the gate.

  • Any doctor could write a letter than says Mr John Doe is under my care and has a condition that prevents him from being in a seated/cramped position for more than _______ hours. If mr doe is required to travel for work it is my recommendation that he be given extended leg room or a large chair so he could move more freely to avoid aggravating his condition. They don’t have to give a Diagnosis and if the company refused to accommodate him he would be eligible to file for workers comp because he was injured on the job.

  • Obserd. As a 35 executive, I will tell you what that was. It was wanting an excuse to fire him. Ppl a company likes can have sick days, requist upgrades etc, but a red-haired stepchild, they r trying to get rid of will be zinged for going to the rest room.
    In add. any adult over age of 32, should have leg Room- tell him to get genome done, he probably has a Connective Tissue disorder.
    Thirdly, the disrespect for a company sending someone into heartland of 👺, is”in” to the point of being respected to degree of business class. Bezos,, who made policy, well,now we know his level of 👺ism- those are who step down and it’s because ofQ.

    • I accused you of not being an executive since you did not spell “absurd” correctly. However, I replied without reading your entire comment. Having now done so, you cannot even tell fact from OBVIOUS fiction — Your reference to “Q-Anon” says ALL anyone needs to know about you… until you get deprogrammed…

  • I worked ages ago what was a fantastic Company: ESPRIT. Similar policy: everybody noatter the rank was supposed to fly coach except for long haul trips to either Europe or the Far East and Oz where business class was allowed. The difference was that the owner, Doug Tompkins have the example by flying himself coach with the employees. He passed away in an unfortunate accident while kayaking in Chile while ammassing wild land and creating parks in a conservationist effort and truly despised everything flashy, snobbish or pretentuos. To my knowledge -but I might be wrong and rumors circulating might be just drenched in envy- apparently Mr Bezos has not conducted himself in such manner…he might be one of the wealthiest men in the world but comes across not as a nice person (at least according to ear-say). God bless him and thank him for his service but arrogance comes across unfortunately. This guy flying might just have been a bit on the whiny side but I guarantee any 14 hour flight especially with back problems is not a joy ride. Let a judge decide.

  • As a former agent that is a stingy travel policy, also he should have used his own card, my issue is why couldn’t he just reimburse the difference? This sounds suspect to me and as far as his back condition why was that not in his HR file to be used for authorization for long haul flights all this sounds like miscommunication and the assistant set him up Periodt!!!

  • Hey Alicia – something just occurred to me when you said HR file. Wouldn’t he have to disclose his condition on his health insurance application? It wouldn’t excuse him for not asking permission but would have provided him some proof of his issue or disability (if he had one). He could have claimed they did know about it…. just a thought.

  • For everyone saying that they were basically trying to get rid of him due to a poor personnel file — it sounds as though he was only recently hired. The comment saying to look for who was promoted to his position seems like a more logical “answer”, but all I really know about Amazon is that my delivery day is Saturday.

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