NLRB sues Amazon over employment practices at a Staten Island facility

The National Labor Relations Board sued Amazon in federal court on Thursday, asking a judge to compel the company to swiftly rectify what it called “blatantly unfair labor practices” before workers move into one of its Staten Island warehouses next week. vote in a union election.

The case, filed in New York’s Eastern District, concerns a former Amazon employee, Gerald Bryson, who was fired by Amazon early in the pandemic after he was involved in a protest over security issues at the warehouse, known as JFK8. The company said Mr Bryson had violated its policy against vulgar and intimidating language when confronting another employee in the protest, but employment office staff determined his dismissal was illegal retaliation for Mr Bryson’s organization on the workplace.

The case has dragged on in the agency’s administrative court proceedings for nearly two years, with long battles over issues such as what evidence is admissible. While an administrative judge has not yet ruled on the case, the employment agency argued that a federal judge should force Amazon to make immediate changes, given the union election and Mr Bryson’s involvement with the organization. Voting starts next Friday.

If immediate action is not taken, the board argued in its complaint, Amazon employees will “inevitably conclude that the board cannot effectively protect their rights” under federal labor law.

The agency said the Amazon judge should demand that he immediately return Mr. Bryson’s job, post notices at the facility and read a statement about workers’ rights aloud during mandatory employee meetings.

“No matter how big the employer is, it’s important that workers know their rights — especially during union elections — and that the NLRB will vociferously defend them,” said Kathy Drew King, the agency’s director who oversees the regional agency. office filing the lawsuit. , in a statement.

Amazon questioned the timing of the filing and the agency’s reasoning.

“It is noteworthy that the NLRB is pursuing an ’emergency ban’ just before an election, when they have known the facts in this case for more than 18 months,” said a company spokesman, Kelly Nantel. “And it’s confusing that they’re fighting to protect behavior that no employer or co-worker should tolerate: Mr. Bryson was broadcast live on social media, bullying, swearing and slandering a female co-worker with a megaphone.”

In administrative court files, the employment agency argued that Amazon had misapplied its policies toward Mr. Bryson in retaliation for his protests.

Amazon said in its files that it had conducted a thorough investigation in good faith before firing Mr Bryson.

Recent reports showed that a recording captured most of the altercation between Mr Bryson, who is black, and the female employee, who is white. Both used abusive language in the recording, although the agency’s detailed report revealed that the woman had made many of the comments and had tried multiple times to convince Mr Bryson to fight her, which he did not.

Mr Bryson was fired but the woman was given a ‘first warning’.

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