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20 Apr 2020

Caroline O'Donovan, Buzzfeed

Amazon fired an employee involved with workplace organizing in Minnesota; company denies it was related to his advocacy

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Amazon fired at least one warehouse employee in Minnesota... Bashir Mohamed, [who] said that in addition to organizing workers to advocate for better working conditions, he had begun pushing for more rigorous cleaning and other measures to protect against the transmission of the coronavirus. Mohamed... believes that his workplace advocacy is why he was fired... Amazon... told him that he was terminated because he refused to speak to his supervisor. Mohamed did not deny that allegation, although he accused his supervisor of treating him unfairly.

... A second employee at the Minnesota... facility... [said he] believed Amazon was targeting workers involved with walkouts and production slowdowns... in some cases by selectively reprimanding them for failing to comply with social distancing protocols... Amazon... said, “We respect the rights of employees to protest and recognize their legal right to do so; however, these rights do not provide blanket immunity against bad actions, particularly those that endanger the health, well-being or safety of their colleagues. This individual was terminated as a result of progressive disciplinary action for inappropriate language, behavior, and violating social distancing guidelines.”

... Amazon... also fired Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, two Seattle-based employees who were leaders of the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice group... Regarding Cunningham and Costa, Amazon said, “We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies. We terminated these employees for repeatedly violating internal policies.”