Two additional employees who were publicly critical of Amazon’s warehouse conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic have been fired by the company. UX designers Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa were both also members of Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, an organization of employees “who believe it’s our responsibility to ensure our business models don’t contribute to the climate crisis.”
The Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post was the first to report the firings, which come as workers in at least 74 for the retail giant’s warehouses and fulfillment centers have tested positive for the virus. At the very least, the optics are less than ideal, as Amazon has struggled to maintain its delivery service amid a widespread shutdown.
Amazon has pushed back against the notion that the employees were fired expressly due to their criticisms of its treatment of workers during the pandemic. “We support every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions,” a spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch, “but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies. We terminated these employees for repeatedly violating internal policies.”
Amazon has not specified the violation, though the company notably has policies prohibiting public discussion of business practices without executive approval. Both Cunningham and Costa told the Post they believe they were fired over public criticisms of company practices.
The firings come half a month after the firing of Staten Island fulfillment center employee Chris Smalls, who was also critical of working conditions. The incident prompted Democratic members of Congress to pen an open letter to Bezos. ” The right to organize is a bedrock of our economy,” the congresspeople wrote in the letter, “responsible for many of the greatest advances achieved by workers over generations.”