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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin accused of toxic work culture, compromising safety

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Blue Origin spokesperson denied the allegations (File)

San Francisco:

A group of current and former employees of Blue Origin on Thursday accused Jeff Bezos’s space company of rampant sexual harassment with a “toxic” work culture and a pattern of decision-making prioritizing rapid rocket development over safety .

The allegations, strongly denied by Blue Origin, were outlined in a lengthy blogpost signed by Alexandra Abrams, the company’s former head of employee communications.

The Post said it also represented the views of 20 other workers and former workers in different divisions who wished to remain anonymous.

“Workforce gender differences are common in the space industry, but at Blue Origin they also manifest in a particular brand of sexism,” it said.

A senior executive is said to have reported sexual harassment multiple times, but remained within CEO Bob Smith’s “loyal inner circle”.

Another former executive frequently referred to female coworkers as “‘baby girl,’ ‘baby doll,’ or ‘sweetheart'” and inquired about their dating lives, the post added.

“It seemed to many of us that he was protected by his close personal relationship with Bezos—it took him to physically grope a female subordinate,” the authors said.

He also said that a former NASA astronaut and senior leader at Blue Origin once instructed a group of women: “You should ask for my opinion because I’m a man.”

Abrams and his co-authors further claimed that the company romanticized burnout, suppressed dissent, and was obsessed with competing with rivals SpaceX and Virgin Galactic in the race to launch its billionaire founders, thus Security compromised.

“In the opinion of one of the engineers who signed this essay, ‘Blue Origin has been lucky that nothing has happened so far,'” he said.

A spokesperson for Blue Origin denied the allegations, saying Abrams was fired two years ago following warnings over issues related to US export control rules.

“Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind,” the spokesperson said.

“We provide multiple avenues for employees, including a 24/7 anonymous hotline, and will investigate any new claims of misconduct immediately.”

The US Federal Aviation Administration told AFP that the regulatory agency “takes every allegation seriously” and is reviewing the information.

Bezos spent minutes ahead of Earth’s atmosphere on Blue Origin’s first crewed mission in July — a breakthrough moment for the space tourism sector after years of delay.

A 10-minute hop back and forth from the West Texas base to the Karman Line again created four new astronauts, including the oldest and youngest astronauts.

Blue Origin this week announced plans for a second flight in October, and an unconfirmed report says it could include a celebrity astronaut: Bill Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on “Star Trek.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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