Amazon interrogated warehouse worker over COVID walkouts, Labor Board reportedly says

A report from Vice says a worker who helped organize a walkout at a Queens Amazon warehouse was disciplined for "harassing" his co-workers.

Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
Expertise E-commerce, Amazon, earned wage access, online marketplaces, direct to consumer, unions, labor and employment, supply chain, cybersecurity, privacy, stalkerware, hacking. Credentials 2022 Eddie Award for a single article in consumer technology
2 min read
The outside of an Amazon warehouse with the company logo prominently displayed.

Amazon settled an NLRB complaint alleging it violated warehouse workers' right to work together to better their working conditions. According to Vice, the company interrogated and disciplined a worker who helped organize a walkout over COVID-19 safety concerns.

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An Amazon warehouse worker underwent intense questioning after helping organize walkouts in March 2020 over COVID-19 safety concerns, in violation of federal labor laws, according to a report from Vice. The worker, Jonathan Bailey, was reportedly interrogated for 90 minutes and written up for harassing his co-workers, some of whom felt "hurt" by the walkout, he was told. 

The findings come from a complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency tasked with enforcing labor laws. Workers' rights to work together to improve working conditions and pay, known as concerted activities, are protected by federal law

Vice reported that Amazon agreed in a settlement to post a notice saying it would refrain from asking employees whether they support walkouts, "or about any other protected, concerted activities." CNET was unable to independently verify the NLRB complaint, but was able to confirm that the NLRB investigated Amazon in a case involving Bailey, which ended in a settlement and a requirement that Amazon post a notice to employees.

An Amazon spokesperson didn't confirm the particulars of the case, but said the company disagrees with the allegations and is "pleased to put this matter behind us. 

"The health and safety of our employees is our top priority and we are proud to provide inclusive environments," the statement continued, "where employees can excel without fear of retaliation, intimidation or harassment."

The report comes a month after the New York Attorney General sued Amazon for inadequately protecting warehouse workers from COVID-19. It also comes as Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are casting their ballots in a union vote. The NLRB will tally the votes on March 30, determining whether the 5,800 employees will be the first to decide to form a union in the United States.