Amazon has fired two activist employees who criticized the company’s treatment of warehouse workers during the coronavirus crisis.
The e-commerce colossus said it canned user experience designers Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa for “repeatedly violating internal policies.”
Both have slammed Amazon’s environmental policies and more recently spoke out in support of warehouse workers who say the company isn’t protecting them from the deadly virus.
“We support 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,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.
Cunningham confirmed on Twitter that she and Costa had been axed. Costa told the Washington Post that she was working from home Friday when she got the news on a video call with her teenage son in the next room.
“They were targeting the most visible leaders in an attempt to silence everyone,” Costa told the paper, which first reported on the firings.
The move came after Cunningham made Twitter posts amplifying criticism from Amazon workers who say warehouse conditions have put them at risk of getting the coronavirus. She and Costa also offered to match donations up to $500 to support warehouse staffers who have been exposed to the virus.
Amazon previously slapped Costa and Cunningham with warnings after they publicly criticized the company’s handling of environmental issues. Despite the admonishment, they were among more than 350 Amazon workers who issued statements in January accusing their employer of failing to combat climate change and trying to silence public criticism.
Amazon policy prevents employees from speaking about the company’s business without prior approval. The Seattle-based firm has defended the policy by saying it’s similar to those at other large companies.
Amazon also sparked outrage last month when it fired Staten Island warehouse worker Chris Smalls after he organized a protest to demand stronger protections for workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Amazon said he was canned because he didn’t quarantine himself after coming in contact with an employee who had the coronavirus, but Smalls said his firing was retaliation for speaking out.