According to an allegation filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last month, Amazon’s decision to fire Courtney Bowden, a warehouse worker, violated labor laws. When the company suddenly let go of Bowden, Bowden advocated better work.
As the coronavirus pandemic intensifies, Bowden is one of many workers fighting for paid leave at Amazon warehouses. When the company said it would introduce more safety measures, workers continued to fall ill and executives became increasingly hostile to the organization of employees.
In March of this year, Bowden was fired on suspicion of an incident with his boss.
Bowden was fired at a time when demand for Amazon services was unprecedented. Throughout the spring, even though the coronavirus outbreak swept its warehouses, the company was still struggling to keep up with the increasing orders.
A warehouse worker in Staten Island, Chris Smalls, organized a mass strike to protest the lack of personal protective equipment. Amazon fired Smalls and organized a campaign to call him “unintelligent or slurred” in the media.
Bowden believes that Amazon fired her because she had been discussing “salary and other workplace issues” with colleagues, BuzzFeed News reported. The NLRB believes that these allegations are credible enough to be charged, alleging that Amazon “has been interfering, restraining and coercing employees” in exercising their employees’ protected rights.
If Amazon loses the lawsuit, it may have to repay Bowden’s wages since he was fired. But Bowden said her goal is not just financial. She told BuzzFeed News that she hopes that “colleagues will see that the remarks about poor working conditions and work benefits are not wrong, and do not worry about their rights because they have legal rights.”
Bowden’s complaint is one of many legal actions being filed against the technology giant. In November, a judge dismissed the lawsuits of four former workers at a distribution center in New York. It argued that the company created unsafe working conditions during the pandemic.