Former Exec Sues Amazon and Netflix for $1M
A former executive is suing Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), claiming that Netflix used its position as an Amazon customer to ensure that he would be fired after leaving a position at Netflix to work for the e-commerce giant.
Jerry Kowal filed the suit in a Los Angeles Supreme Court on Tuesday, alleging defamation, false light invasion of privacy, civil conspiracy, intention of interference of employment relationship, blacklisting, and wrongful termination. The full complaint, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, says that Netflix convinced Amazon “to aid in a cutthroat and unlawful campaign to effectively blacklist a once valued and profitable executive and prevent him from competing against it.”
Kowal described his position as director of content acquisition at Netflix as a “cold and hostile” work environment, which led him to resign in June to pursue a different position with Amazon’s digital video team. Kowal says that he was threatened when he left Netflix. “When Kowal announced his intent to leave, Netflix did everything it could to dissuade him. Netflix offered him higher compensation and more responsibility, and when that did not work, also bad-mouthed Amazon, warning Kowal that Amazon’s video streaming service would not last and that he would regret his decision to leave,” the complaint reads.
Netflix says that Kowal took secret information about Netflix to Amazon’s competing digital video service when he left the company. Kowal says that Netflix publicly accused him of stealing information as a form of blackmail, with CEO Reed Hastings and CCO Ted Sarandos telling 200 employees at a quarterly meeting that Kowal provided confidential documents to Amazon and instructing employees to cut off contact with him. Both Hastings and Sarandos are named as defendants in the suit.