Amazon has threatened employees with “termination of your employment” after a group approached the media calling for stronger climate action from the retailer.
Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of staff which campaign for the retailer to take more action on climate change, has seen several of its members questioned by legal and HR representatives after making public comments about the company’s policies.
Four employees are understood to have been questioned by Amazon, and two of those have been threatened with termination if they continued to speak to the media without seeking prior approval.
One employee Maren Costa was the subject of an “investigation” by Amazon’s HR department.
In an email shared with The Guardian, Costa was told that although she will face no punishment at this point, future unauthorised comments could result in “formal corrective action, to and including termination of your employment with Amazon”.
“It was scary to be called into a meeting like that, and then to be given a follow-up email saying that if I continued to speak up, I could be fired,” Costa said.
“But I spoke up because I’m terrified by the harm the climate crisis is already causing, and I fear for my children’s future. Any policy that says I can’t talk about something that is a threat to my children – all children – is a problem for me.”
In September, a day before more than 1000 employees planned to walk out of as part of the Global Climate Crisis, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos announced a pledge to rely completely on renewable energy by 2030 and have net zero carbon emissions by 2040.
According to the group, a day after the walkout, Amazon introduced a new policy which prevented staff speaking to the press and on social media regarding its climate policies without first seeking permission.
In response, Amazon said: “Our policy regarding external communications is not new and, we believe, is similar to other large companies. We recently updated the policy and related approval process to make it easier for employees to participate in external activities such as speeches, media interviews, and use of the company’s logo.
“As with any company policy, employees may receive a notification from our HR team if we learn of an instance where a policy is not being followed.”