Former Netflix executive Jerry Kowal has filed a $1 million lawsuit against his former employer, claiming it falsely accused him of stealing trade secrets – an accusation that got him fired from his job at Amazon. After being cleared of all charges and not getting his job back, Kowal added Amazon to the lawsuit, claiming it was conspiring with Netflix to ruin his reputation and future career prospects.
Kowal left Netflix for Amazon in June 2013 to after becoming fed up with the former company’s “toxic culture.” In the lawsuit, Kowal claims that Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, threatened him, telling Kowal he would “regret going to Amazon.”
Within a week of starting his new job, Netflix announced (in front of hundreds of employees and board members) it was investigating him for stealing trade secrets and using them to help the competition. Amazon quickly fired Kowal after the announcement, stating that it has a strict liability policy that required he be fired immediately.
The introduction to the lawsuit dubs this incident as the “proverbial David and Goliath,” with the online streaming giant being the bad guy looking to take the little guy down. Kowal’s legal complaint is nothing short of derogatory toward Netflix, accusing the company of using its money and power to destroy him and influence others (in this case Amazon) to help. He also accuses Netflix of barring all employees from contacting him, thus blacklisting him from the company and the industry.
Both Netflix and Amazon declined to speak to media about the lawsuit.