We all hoped luggage-startup Away’s toxic work culture ended with Steph Korey's direct reach, but a new report from The Verge makes it clear that the effects have been felt through every part of the company. In total, 12 more employees from various sectors of the company have come forward with allegations against Away.
Paint fumes and cold — Away’s monogramming team was moved from the company’s SoHo headquarters to a new office in Brooklyn in July. The problems with the new space were immediately apparent: the office smelled like fresh paint, and its heating system wasn’t operational. Away promised the employees a new ventilation system would be installed; by November, it still hadn’t been.
“Does anyone else feel super dizzy/sick like every day?” one employee asked in the office Slack. “These fumes got me zeeted high key.” One employee responded, “not sure what zeeted is but i’m pretty sure i am high key zeeted as well [sic].” Another employee said: “Yep nausea from paint led to hurling in the bathroom Tuesday.”
The trouble didn’t stop: by November, employees complained of persistent headaches, coughs, and itchy eyes. As the temperature outside dipped into the 40s, employees tried keeping their windows open. But the heat still hadn’t been repaired. Away responded by sending employees fingerless gloves and desk fans.
Eventually OSHA investigated — And found nothing. One employee called OSHA to report the working conditions and was later told by Away that the inspector hadn’t found any unsafe levels of chemicals in the workplace.
“Our problems are less about the toxic social environment and more about the actual toxic environment,” that employee told The Verge.
That toxicity has trickled down — The stories told by Away’s employees range in severity and scope, but the common thread is neglect. One retail employee dealt with broken air conditioning and missed water deliveries, only to be compensated for her troubles with a Bluetooth speaker and a $300 check. Retail locations also dealt with mold problems, rodent infestations, and silence from corporate teams when trying to assist customers.
Mostly, Away’s employees are just tired of not being heard by the company. “Management was aware of our complaints for a month,” one monogram artist said. “They seemed resentful of our department voicing issues."