May 11, 2020

After Firing Of Amazon Whistleblowers, Gillibrand Calls For Information On Discipline Policies

Push Comes As Amazon VP Resigns After Firing Of Employees Who Called Out Safety Conditions In Warehouses

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand joined Senate Democrats in calling for information on Amazon’s discipline and termination policies, as reports emerged about the firing of employees who have publicly raised concerns about the company’s safety conditions in warehouses during the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the senators called for information on internal policies that resulted in the termination of at least four employees that have advocated on behalf of health and safety conditions for workers in Amazon warehouses. More than 100 Amazon warehouses have reported positive coronavirus cases. 

“While large companies like Amazon are allowed to remain open during this pandemic, it’s essential that they take every precaution to protect the health and safety of their workers,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is deeply troubling that workers who have expressed concern over safety have been fired, especially amidst a global health and economic crisis. Amazon must immediately answer these questions and provide clarity on the internal policies that have resulted in these terminations.”

Since the pandemic began, Amazon workers have called for support to protect their health and safety. In April, hundreds of Amazon tech and warehouse workers held "sick out" protests and pledged to call out of work. Earlier this week, an Amazon vice president announced his resignation, citing " dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of COVID-19." 

In the letter, the Senator Gillibrand expressed concern that Amazon's response to protecting their workers during this public health crisis has not been sufficient. Amazon, like all employers, have a statutory responsibility to ensure workplaces are "free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees." 

Full text of the letter can be found here