Amazon has sacked two employees for speaking out against its treatment of warehouse workers during the coronavirus crisis publicly without prior approval from management.
The online retailers confirmed that two experience designers, who had worked for Amazon for 15 years, had been sacked for “repeatedly violating internal policies.”
The online retailer’s external communications policy forbids any employees from speaking about Amazon’s internal practices without approval from management.
Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa were both sacked via telephone on Friday afternoon, The Washington Post reported.
Both were outspoken critics of Amazon’s labour practices and both said they believed the action was in retaliation for recent public criticism of its practices during the COVID-19 outbreak including the sharing of a petition highlighting these concerns.
Costa said Amazon had previously tried to prevent her set up meetings between tech workers and warehouse employees to discuss what it was like working during the pandemic.
It is understood that Amazon has previously threatened to fire Costa and Cunningham if they continued to violate its external communications policy.
While 340 employees signed a letter in protest of the policy in January this year, Amazon said it would continue to enforce it and would “not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company”.
Last week Amazon said employees who “intentionally violate” social distancing may now be sacked as it came under increasing pressure to improve employee safety.
Around 50 Amazon warehouses in the US have now seen at least one member of staff test positive for COVID-19 as the public, politicians, and employees have all piled criticism on the online giant.
In response Amazon has now said that any employees deliberately coming closer than six feet with other staff will receive up to two warnings before facing “termination”.
Despite this, employees have warned that social distancing is simply not possible in Amazon’s warehouses.
A week earlier Amazon controversially sacked a member of staff Chris Smalls who had organised a staff walkout to protest working conditions.
While Smalls alleges this was in retaliation for the strike, Amazon said Small had be told to self-isolate after coming in close contact with an infected employee, and was sacked for coming into work and endangering other employees.