Over the past several years, both current and former Amazon employees have brought public attention to the grueling condition awaiting workers at Amazon warehouses. Employees are required to pack countless boxes every hour, and if they don’t, they’ll get fired.
But new documents obtained by The Verge reveal that getting fired for not meeting company productivity standards is much more common than the public realizes, according to the MIT Technology Review. Between August 2017 and September 2018, approximately 300 people at one facility were fired for not being productive enough—in other words, a person was fired almost every day for over a year straight at one warehouse alone.
Even more crucially, the report showed that a significant portion of the firing process is done by computers and algorithms. Each individual worker’s productivity is tracked by Amazon, and the computer system automatically sends warnings or even notifications of termination without any supervisor input, Amazon stated. Although managers are capable of reversing the process, the company did not state how often this occurs. However, workers can appeal the termination process, Amazon said.
Uber is another company that has been scrutinized for its workers complaining about “management by algorithm.” As technology continues to see major advancements, similar stories will likely be much more common in the future.