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Is Amazon Stifling Employee Communication After Workers Protested?

May 15th, 2020 Victoria Breese

Amazon employees in New York recently protested over their working conditions due to the coronavirus outbreak. Employees are concerned that Amazon has not done enough to protect its workers from contracting the virus while at work. Following the protest, Amazon has taken steps to enforce rules about mass emails across the company. Additionally, Amazon has terminated at least six employees involved in worker protests. Some employees say that these communication rules hinder worker organizing. Amazon claims that the rules are part of a routine company audit. Is Amazon cracking down on employee communication to prevent more protests?

Employee Communication And Company Criticism

Amazon has online employee forums where workers discuss a wide range of topics. Recently, these forums have become a venue for employees to voice critiques of their employer. For example, warehouse workers have asked for more safety protections and increased hazard pay during the global pandemic. Employees say that Amazon’s new communication rules are preventing employees from freely speaking their minds. Apparently, if an employee now wants to internally publicize their opinion, they must ask a company moderator for permission. Some employees worry that asking permission to criticize Amazon could risk getting them fired. If employees can’t speak to each other freely, they will be less able to mobilize for future protests for better working conditions. However, employees are now more likely to mobilize on other platforms, such as social media.  Could Amazon’s restrictions on employee communication violate the law?

Legal Implications Of Stifling Employee Communication

Some legal experts think that Amazon’s actions could be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act’s (NLRA) prohibitions against unlawful restraint of concerted activity.  Section 7 of the NLRA gives employees the right to engage in “concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.” “Concerted” means two or more people acting together. No union connection is required for employees to engage in concerted activity. Some examples of concerted activities that are protected by law include talking with co-workers about working conditions and participating in a coordinated refusal to work in unsafe conditions. So, employees’ concerns about health and safety during Coronavirus could fall into this category. This law also requires that concerted activities have “mutual aid and protection.” It is well established that workplace conditions satisfy this requirement. We will have to wait and see if an Amazon employee eventually alleges a violation of this law in court. 

Seek Legal Assistance Today

If you have had employment issues because of the coronavirus outbreak, seek legal assistance today. The Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646) 430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.