Amazon is face to face a lawsuit by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is seeking the reinstatement of an employee it believes was filed in retaliation. Gerald Bryson, who worked at the e-commerce giant’s JFK8 facility on Staten Island, was fired in the early days of the pandemic after he helped lead protests over security concerns entirely related to the company’s COVID-19 protocols.
Bryson fired an unfair labor practice lawsuit in 2020, but the case has been stuck in the agency’s administrative court process. Now, follow New York TimesThe NLRB is asking a federal judge to make the changes immediately before the facility goes live a union election at the end of March and consider Bryson’s involvement in the organization.
Amazon denied that Bryson’s firing was retaliation in 2020, explaining that he was fired for violating its policy on profanity and harassment. The company said Bryson bullied and threatened a female associate “in a racist and sexual manner” during a confrontation during a protest. However, a video cited by the NLRB in a submit (PDF) shows that while Bryson did indeed use profanity during the confrontation, the female employee also used offensive language and a racial slur against him. Bryson, a Black man who helped lead the protest, was fired, while the white female employee who asked him to stop protesting and go home was given the first warning.
The NLRB has accused Amazon of applying its policies against him in retaliation for his role in the protest. It was suggested that if the judge did not reinstate Bryson, workers “would inevitably conclude that the board cannot effectively defend their interests.” NLRB Director Kathy Drew King said in a statement:
“No matter how big an employer is, it’s important for workers to know their rights – especially during union elections – and that the NLRB will speak up for them.”
The JFK8 facility will be holding union voting in person between March 25 and March 30. It’s been a long journey just to get there, with the Amazon Labor Federation unable to gather enough. signature to conduct an election for the first time. The group obtain union voting threshold on the second attempt, and although Amazon suspects that “a sufficient number of legitimate signatures” have been obtained, the election will proceed as the NLRB has decided.
In addition to seeking Bryson’s reinstatement, the NLRB also wants Amazon to post notices of worker rights on the premises and read them aloud at required employee meetings.
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