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According to an NLRB complaint, Amazon retaliated against an employee who protested the return-to-office policy by disciplining and terminating them for their legal organizing activities.

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image credit: Amazon .com

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy emailed employees revised return-to-work guidelines in February 2023. Starting on May 1, 2023, most Amazon employees were required to work from the office at least three days a week, according to Jassy’s email. Before that, teams may pick where employees worked. Salespeople and customer support were exempt.

Thousands of Amazon workers petitioned against the new rule and staged a walkout months later. In a meeting in early August 2023, Jassy reaffirmed the company’s commitment to staff working most of the week, despite objections and criticism, Insider said.

Amazon allegedly “interrogated” employees about the walkout via Chime, according to the NLRB complaint. Amazon first put the employee on a performance improvement plan after they organized the walkout, then “offered a severance payment of nine weeks’ salary if the employee signed a severance agreement and global release in exchange for their resignation.”

NLRB lawyers said the employee organized and the retaliation was meant to deter “…protected, concerted activities.”

Employee names are removed in NLRB complaints. After the walkout, one of the organizers was placed on a performance improvement plan “known for being nearly impossible to escape.” The Seattle Times highlighted him last year. The complaint and story describe how investigators questioned this worker about urging other employees “to be angry at Amazon”.

The NLRB’s general counsel wants Amazon to reimburse the employee for “financial harms and search-for-work and work-related expenses,” write an apology, and post a “Notice to Employees” at the company’s facilities nationwide, distribute it electronically, and read it by an Amazon rep at a recorded videoconference. No material was supplied for the “Notice to Employees”.

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