Judge orders Amazon to reinstate warehouse worker illegally fired over safety protests

Amazon has been organized to reinstate an employee illegally fired by the company two years ago for his role in safety 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 on a break. Court records (which include video transcripts of the incident as Exhibits B and C) show that both Bryson and the employee used profanity and insults against each other. Bryson said that Amazon should close the warehouse for not adequately protecting workers from COVID-19, while the employee responded “it’s the only fucking job available, so I appreciate it.”

Amazon investigated the incident and fired Bryson for violating the company’s policy against the use of “abusive, vulgar, or harassing language” while giving the other worker a written warning.

In March, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took up Bryson’s case, arguing that he was actually fired in retaliation for protesting safety conditions. On Monday, Administrative Law Judge Benjamin W. Green according to this analysisruling that Amazon had “illegally terminated” Bryson and must reinstate his job, as well as pay him two years’ lost earnings.

Looking at the evidence presented by both sides, Green said there was “considerable evidence that [Amazon’s] The stated reason for Bryson’s discharge was a mere pretext.” Amazon conducted a “biased investigation” into the incident, Green said, interviewed selective sources and made a biased judgment: It fired Bryson and not the other employee, though, Green said, Amazon did not show how the couple’s conduct was “significantly “. different.”

Details of the dispute include that Bryson was told to “go back to the Bronx.” Green notes in his summary: “Bryson could reasonably interpret the comment as racial since he is African-American and could question why, other than his race, would anyone assume he is from the Bronx.”

Amazon says it will appeal the decision, with spokeswoman Kelly Nantel narration APNews: “We strongly disagree with this ruling and are surprised that the NLRB wants any employer to condone Mr. Bryson’s behavior.” But the case comes as Amazon faces growing resistance from US employees, who are organizing over wages, working conditions 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 dispute.

Bryson said The New York Times on Monday that his victory would rally Amazon employees eager to unionize. “For me, winning and walking through those doors changes everything,” Bryson said. “It will show that you can beat Amazon. 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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