Judge orders Amazon to rehire warehouse worker wrongfully fired over security protests

Amazon has been ordered to reinstate an employee unfairly fired by the company two years ago for his involvement in security protests at a Staten Island warehouse.

Gerald Bryson was protesting outside the Amazon facility known as JFK8 on April 6, 2020, when he got into an argument with an employee during a break. Court records (including transcripts of the incident from videos such as Appendices B and C) show that both Bryson and the employee used swear words and insults at each other. Bryson said Amazon should close the warehouse for not adequately protecting workers from COVID-19, while the employee replied, “It’s the only damn job open, so appreciate it.”

Amazon investigated the incident and fired Bryson for violating the company’s policy against using “abusive, vulgar or intimidating language” while issuing a written warning to the other employee.

In March, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took up Bryson’s case, arguing that he had actually been fired in retaliation for protesting the security terms. On Monday, Administrative Judge Benjamin W. Green agreed with this analysis, ruling that Amazon had “unlawfully fired” Bryson, and must reinstate his job and pay him two years of lost income.

Looking at the evidence submitted by both sides, Green said there was “significant evidence that” [Amazon’s] stated reason for firing Bryson was just a pretext.” Amazon conducted a “skewed investigation” into the incident, Green said, interviewing selective sources and giving a biased verdict — he fired Bryson and not the other employee, although, Green said, Amazon did not show how the couple’s behavior was “meaningful.” ” used to be. different.”

Details of the dispute include Bryson being told to “go back to the Bronx”. Green notes in his summary, “Bryson could reasonably consider the comment racist given that he is African American and might wonder why anyone other than his race would assume he is from the Bronx.”

Amazon says it will appeal the decision, spokesperson Kelly Nantel says APNews“We strongly disagree with this statement and are surprised that the NLRB would want an employer to approve of Mr. Bryson’s conduct.” But the case comes as Amazon faces increasing resistance from workers in the US, who are organizing on pay, benefits and safety. The facility where Bryson was fired, JFK8, became the first Amazon warehouse to unionize on April 1, while another union in Alabama is currently in the running.

Bryson told The New York Times on Monday that his win would make Amazon workers excited to join a union. “For me to win and walk back through those doors, everything changes,” Bryson said. “It will show that Amazon can be beaten. It will show that you have to fight for what you believe in.”

You can read Judge Green’s ruling in full below:

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