Federal labor regulators have discovered that Amazon illegally fired two of probably the most outspoken critics of its local weather and office practices. Former staff Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa have been let go final yr for repeatedly violating Amazon’s inside insurance policies that forbid employees from discussing the corporate publicly with out formal approval. The choice prompted the Nationwide Labor Relations Board to begin an inquiry into claims that Amazon was retaliating towards staff who set up or take part in protests. In response to correspondence shared by Cunningham with The New York Instances, the labor company has deemed Amazon’s firings as unlawful. It additionally mentioned that it might accuse the corporate of unfair labor practices if it didn’t settle the case with the 2 former employees.
Cunningham and Costa’s high-profile case gained nationwide consideration after they lambasted the retailer for its local weather insurance policies final yr in a video shared by Bernie Sanders. They later amplified their protests to talk out towards the corporate’s office situations in the course of the pandemic. The 2 activists have been fired by Amazon final April for repeatedly violating inside insurance policies that prohibit public disparagement or misrepresentation of the corporate — a declare Amazon repeated at present in its assertion to the Instances.
“We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against our internal policies, all of which are lawful,” mentioned Jaci Anderson, an Amazon spokeswoman. “We terminated these employees not for talking publicly about working conditions, safety or sustainability but, rather, for repeatedly violating internal policies.”
Cunningham heralded the labor board’s determination as a “moral victory” that proved “we’re on the appropriate facet of historical past and the appropriate facet of the regulation.” The company has seen complaints towards Amazon’s meddling with employees’ rights to arrange greater than triple in the course of the pandemic, in keeping with a current NBC Information report. Suggesting that the saga is much from over, the labor board is now contemplating beginning a nationwide investigation into the practices, regardless of sometimes probing costs on a regional foundation.
The company has additionally upheld a grievance involving labor activist Jonathan Bailey, who accused Amazon for breaking the regulation when it interrogated him following a walkout he staged final yr at a Queens warehouse. Final month, Amazon settled with Bailey and was required to publish a discover to staff reminding them of their proper to arrange.