This is the sixth publicly known termination, as employees ramp up complaints that Amazon isn’t protecting them from the coronavirus.
Amazon which continues to endure intense criticism for its treatment of warehouse workers during the coronavirus pandemic, has taken another step deeper into the controversy. The company on Friday fired another warehouse employee who protested against the company’s working conditions.
Gerald Bryson, an Amazon warehouse employee in Staten Island, told CNET on Tuesday that he was terminated for vulgar language. Also, Derrick Palmer, who has also organized protests at the same facility and has been one of the more outspoken critics of his employer, said he was given a final write-up for violating social distancing protocols but continues to be employed by the company.
“It was just retribution for me organizing and protesting,” said Bryson, a 50-year-old Staten Island resident who’s worked for Amazon for the past year and a half. “I’m disgusted. I feel violated.”
Amazon said Bryson was witnessed bullying and demeaning a fellow employee onsite on the day of a protest. The company conducted an investigation and collected witness statements from six other employees. Bryson also admitted to his actions and language, the company said.
“We respect the rights of employees to protest and recognize their legal right to do so, but these rights do not provide blanket immunity against bad actions, including those that harass, discriminate against or intimidate another employee,” Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said in a statement. “Amazon has a strict, zero tolerance policy on any kind of harassment, discrimination, intimidation or inappropriate language toward another employee.”
Bryson’s termination and Palmer’s disciplining follow similar actions by Amazon directed at employees who have spoken out against the company during the health crisis. Last week, the company confirmed it fired three activist employees: tech workers Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, as well as Minnesota warehouse worker Bashir Mohamed. Last month, it fired Christian Smalls, who also helped organize the Staten Island demonstrations, and Courtney Bowden, a Pennsylvania worker who pushed for paid time off for part-time workers.