Amazon Heads To Court After Firing Workers Who Slammed Company's Labor Practices

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Amazon said it would use external, independent insurance fraud experts to analyze the validity of claims
Amazon said it would use external, independent insurance fraud experts to analyze the validity of claims

Two Amazon employees are set to face their former employer in court on Sept. 28 after a federal labor board found merit in their complaint that the conglomerate fired them illegally.

Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, both of whom were user experience designers at the company’s Seattle headquarters, were fired for what Amazon said was a repeated violation of their own internal policies. The women were critics of Amazon's policies on climate change and were members of an employee advocacy group called Amazon Employees For Climate Change, which called on the company to do more about its own environmental impact.

In 2019, the group wrote a letter to Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos which asked him to adopt a climate policy that included plans to reduce its carbon footprint and to advocate for emission reduction policies than support climate change denying politicians.

They also included a demand that Amazon change how it responds to workers who speak out against its policies. After speaking out against its climate policies in the past, Amazon threatened to fire the employees who did but it failed to quell their discontent.

Cunningham and Costa also spoke out against Amazon’s notoriously harsh working environment for warehouse workers. They each shared petitions by warehouse employees that asked for more protection at work and solicited donations for their cause.

Amazon fired the two in April 2020, prompting them to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) six months later. In April 2021, the NLRB found merit in their complaint that Amazon violated federal labor law by firing them “based on discriminatory enforcement of its non-solicitation and communication policies”, which they contend limited employees’ freedom of speech.

After the decision was announced, Amazon bristled at the accusation and disagreed with the NLRB’s finding in favor of the former employees. It said that it approves of employees having the right to speak out, but asserted that it did not come with blanket immunity against internal policies, all of which are lawful."

The National Labor Relations Board will hold a video hearing on Sept. 28 to review charges against Amazon.

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