At Amazon, you can appeal your firing to a jury of coworkers

If you’re on the chopping block at your job, the decision of whether or not you get fired is usually in the hands of your manager. At retail giant Amazon, however, you can defend yourself and appeal the decision to a jury of your peers. Announced last year, the “Pivot” probation program is designed to help underperforming employees in danger of being fired in Amazon’s growing workforce.

If you’re on the chopping block at your job, the decision of whether or not you get fired is usually in the hands of your manager. At retail giant Amazon, however, you can defend yourself and appeal the decision to a jury of your peers. Announced last year, the “Pivot” probation program is designed to help underperforming employees in danger of being fired in Amazon’s growing workforce.

If your manager puts you on this performance-improvement plan, you are reportedly given three options:

  1. Quit and receive severance
  2. Work to meet scheduled performance goals set by your manager for the next weeks or months
  3. Appeal your manager’s decision to put you on this performance-improvement plan to a global jury of coworkers in a video conference

Amazon workers on track of being fired can plead their case in trial-by-jury

Amazon said that the global panelists selected for this trial are Amazon workers who have similar titles at the company. The odds of an employee winning their case are not good, however. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, employees lose 70% of the time. The odds are still better than most of us who get to appeal our manager’s decision 0% of the time. If employees win, they reportedly get placed out of Pivot and can choose to work with the boss they just publicly challenged in a video conference duel or can get placed on another team. When they lose, they must choose between the quit and get severance option or the option of completing the performance-improvement plan goals.

The reason why employees are likely to lose may come from the structure of the panel itself. Bloomberg reported that employees within the company have complained about the unfairness about the panel. Employees can dismiss panelists that they think will be biased against them, but overall employees do not get to choose who they want to be part of their jury. Panelists can be employees who have never worked with you personally.

One anonymous Amazon worker said the choice of dismissing panelists does not help her: “At the hearing, the video conference made it difficult to connect with any of the panelists or engage on a personal level, and she sweated through her shirt. She wasn’t invited to watch her boss’s presentation, and he got the last word. She waited by the phone until the career ambassador called to tell her she’d lost,” Bloomberg reported.

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.