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Amazon Fires Two Workers Who Criticized Its Efforts to Keep Warehouse Workers Safe

By Donna Fuscaldo - Apr 14, 2020 at 1:16PM

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The two tech employees fired had offered to match donations up to $500, arguing there are insufficient protections in place to protect warehouse workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon (AMZN -2.78%) has fired two technology employees who were critical of the eCommerce giant's warehouse conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Washington Post report later confirmed by Amazon. 

According to media reports, user experience designers Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa were let go after offering to match donations up to $500 for Amazon's warehouse workers. The two, members of the Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, an advocacy group, said they were matching the funds because of insufficient protections in place for Amazon's warehouse workers. 

A man wearing a mask delivering a package to a person wearing gloves.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

In a statement to CNN, an Amazon spokesperson said the company fired the employees for "repeatedly" violating internal policies. "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," the spokesperson said.  

The two employees were issued warnings in January for not getting the proper approvals before speaking out about the tech giant's efforts to curb greenhouse emissions. Amazon employees are barred from commenting about business practices unless they get management to sign off. That policy prompted 400 Amazon employees to sign a letter calling for an end to the policy.

Earlier in April, Amazon fired Christian Smalls, an Amazon warehouse worker in its Staten Island location, for what the company said was repeated violations of its social distancing guidelines. Small had organized and attended a protest over the safety of Amazon workers. Amazon said at the time he was under quarantine for 14 days. 

Amazon also warned in an internal document that employees who shirk social distancing rules could face disciplinary measures. The first violation gets them written up, while a second violation could result in their termination. After hiring 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers over the course of four weeks to meet surging demand, Amazon said this week it's hiring an additional 75,000. 

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