Amazon settles unfair labor claims with two fired employees

Pair was fired after speaking out publicly against warehouse conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Amazon fired two employees after the spoke out about warehouse working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon has settled a labor dispute with two former employees it fired after the pair spoke out publicly against warehouse conditions and pushed the company to address climate change.

Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, both user experience designers at the internet retail giant, were fired in April 2020 after they spoke out publicly against warehouse conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Both were active members of the advocacy group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice and had offered match donations up to $500 for warehouse workers, citing insufficient protections. 

At the time, Amazon said Cunningham and Costa were fired for "repeatedly violating internal policies." But the National Labor Relations Board reportedly determined they were fired illegally and said in April it would accuse Amazon of unfair labor practices if the online retail giant doesn't settle the case.

Lawyers for both sides announced the settlement in a hearing Wednesday, The Washington Post reported.

Cunningham and Costa said in a joint statement posted on Twitter that they were "thrilled" to have settled, saying that Amazon will pay them lost wages and will be required to post notices informing employees that they can't be fired for organizing and exercising their rights.

"This is a win for protecting workers rights, and shows that we were right to stand up for each other, for justice, and for our world," the women wrote. "Amazon will be required to pay us lost wages and post a notice to all of its tech and warehouse workers nationwide that Amazon can't fire workers for organizing and exercising their rights."

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed it had "reached a mutual agreement that resolves the legal issues in this case and welcome the resolution of this matter." The NLRB confirmed a non-board settlement was reached in the case.

After the firings last year, nine US senators -- including now Vice President Kamala Harris -- sent a letter questioning Amazon's leaders about its termination policies and accusations of retaliation.