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Amazon ordered to stop retaliation against employee organizers

Nov 22, 2022

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A federal judge has ordered Amazon to stop retaliating against employee organizers. The ruling comes as the e-commerce giant moves to lay off 10,000 workers.

The ruling came in a court case brought by the National Labor Relations Board, which sued Amazon in March. It was seeking the reinstatement of an employee who was involved in organizing at an Amazon warehouse in New York.

In its lawsuit, the agency argued Amazon’s termination of Gerald Bryson was unlawful. It said if he wasn’t reinstated, it would have a “chilling” effect on organizing.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Diane Gujarati ruled there was “reasonable cause” to believe Amazon committed an unfair labor practice by firing Bryson. She issued a cease-and-desist order directing Amazon to not retaliate against employees involved in workplace activism. Gujarati denied the NRLB’s request to reinstate Bryson. 

The judge noted that since the employee had been fired before the union was formed, it was different from other cases where the termination of a union activist slowed organization support.

Amazon has denied the firing was connected to organizing activities.

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SHANNON LONGWORTH: A FEDERAL JUDGE HAS ORDERED AMAZON TO STOP RETALIATING AGAINST EMPLOYEE ORGANIZERS, AS IT MOVES TO LAY OFF 10,000 WORKERS THIS WEEK.

THE RULING CAME IN A COURT CASE BROUGHT BY THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD. IT SUED AMAZON IN MARCH, SEEKING THE REINSTATEMENT OF A FIRED EMPLOYEE WHO WAS INVOLVED IN ORGANIZING A COMPANY WAREHOUSE IN NEW YORK.

IN ITS LAWSUIT, THE AGENCY ARGUED AMAZON’S TERMINATION OF GERALD BRYSON WAS UNLAWFUL AND WOULD HAVE A “CHILLING” EFFECT ON ORGANIZING IF HE WASN’T REINSTATED.

ON FRIDAY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE GUJARATI RULED THERE WAS “REASONABLE CAUSE” TO BELIEVE AMAZON COMMITTED AN UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICE BY FIRING BRYSON. SHE ISSUED A CEASE-AND-DESIST ORDER DIRECTING THE E-COMMERCE GIANT TO NOT RETALIATE AGAINST EMPLOYEES INVOLVED IN WORKPLACE ACTIVISM. GUJARATI DENIED THE NRLB’S REQUEST TO REINSTATE BRYSON. 

SHE NOTED THAT THE EMPLOYEE HAD BEEN FIRED BEFORE THE UNION WAS FORMED, WHICH MAKES IT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER CASES WHERE THE FIRING OF A UNION ACTIVIST SLOWED ORGANIZATION SUPPORT. 

AMAZON HAS DENIED THE FIRING WAS CONNECTED TO ORGANIZING ACTIVITIES. 


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