In a scathing letter, Amazon vice president and senior engineer Tim Bray announced he’s leaving the company for “firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of COVID-19.”
Bray went as far as listing several “descriptive phrases you might use to describe the activist-firing,” including “chickenshit,” “never heard of the Streisand effect,” and “painting a sign on your forehead saying ‘Either guilty, or has something to hide.'”
The e-retail giant has found itself in hot water over reports of the company terminating several employees who raised concerns about its treatment of workers during the ongoing pandemic.
The company is reportedly facing a possible investigation in New York over the firing of a number of protesters.
Bray mentioned the firing of Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa in his letter, two former user experience designers, who raised concerns over warehouse worker treatment during the outbreak.
Amazon responded by claiming that Cunningham and Costa were let go for “repeatedly violating internal policies,” as CNBC reports, stating that the company supports “every employee’s right to criticize their employer’s working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies.”
A warehouse worker in Minnesota named Bashir Mohamed was also reportedly fired after speaking up about the facility’s treatment of employees during the pandemic, as Buzzfeed News first reported last month.
The news comes after hundreds of Amazon workers staged a nationwide strike last month protesting the company’s handling of the pandemic. An increasing number of Amazon warehouse workers across the globe are testing positive.
In a statement to VICE, Amazon blamed the workers, warning that some of its own employees are “spreading misinformation and making false claims about Amazon.”
While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos raked in an additional $24 billion in 2020 alone, governments are starting to pay attention to his company’s actions. For instance, Amazon warehouses in France were court ordered to stop all but essential deliveries.
To Bray, Amazon’s actions are symptomatic of something much more troublesome.
“Firing whistleblowers isn’t just a side-effect of macroeconomic forces, nor is it intrinsic to the function of free markets,” his letter reads.
“It’s evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture,” he wrote. “I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison.”
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