NLRB Finds Amazon Illegally Fired Activist Workers, Reports Say

According to a New York Times article by Karen Weise published Monday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that Inc. retaliated against two tech employees after they publicly expressed concerns about the online seller’s impact on climate change and its treatment of warehouse workers. The news outlet explained that the NLRB will take action against Amazon if it does not agree to settle the dispute, which would then be presented to an administrative law judge.

Reportedly, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, who worked as designers in the company’s Seattle headquarters, were fired last April. The pair allegedly began critiquing Amazon in 2018, and in particular, urged it to do more to address its dependence on fossil fuels, the New York Times earlier reported. Their cause gained support from approximately 8,700 other Amazon employees, according to Monday’s article.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the same activists raised questions about the safety of Amazon’s warehouses. Shortly after Costa and Cunningham announced an internal event where warehouse workers could speak to tech employees about their workplace conditions, they were terminated, the New York Times explained.

Allegedly, news of Amazon’s decision prompted a high-profile vice president to resign in protest, and several senators to pen a letter to the company expressing concern over the potential retaliation. The news outlet published a statement from Ms. Cunningham, who said, “[i]t’s a moral victory and really shows that we are on the right side of history and the right side of the law.”

Amazon has faced a host of investigations and complaints over its warehouse workplace conditions. In New York, the state’s attorney general sued as have private plaintiffs, including Christian Smalls, who was fired after he led a protest challenging unsafe working conditions. In another case, a group of plaintiffs who worked at the JFK8 warehouse have appealed the Brooklyn, New York court’s dismissal of their complaint.