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E-Commerce Company Threatens Termination for Whistleblowers

January 16th, 2020

The threat of climate change is now more than just a threat. It is a real problem with devastating consequences for people, as well as the planet.  The work of advocates to address the problem and hold governments and companies accountable has been met with limited success. When the U.S. withdrew from the 2016 Paris Agreement, which set goals for reducing production of greenhouse gasses, many local, regional, and state governments pledged toward reducing reliance on carbon fuel and other efforts to stem climate change.

Amazon’s Climate Pledge

Similar efforts are happening on the corporate front with several companies making public pledges to curtail their carbon footprint and contribute to the solution rather than the problem. Amazon, one of the most lucrative businesses in the nation today, recently made a Climate Pledge to drastically reduce its carbon emissions over the next 20 years and to meet the Paris climate agreement 10 years ahead of schedule.

Amazon may be hedging its bets by prescribing to the laudable goal of reducing fossil fuel reliance while at the same time entering contracts with oil and gas companies to provide cloud computing tools. Some Amazon employees have been frustrated with this dichotomy and spoke publicly about their frustration, including calling on Amazon to change the policies that appear to undercut its Climate Pledge. In addition, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ) made public statements through the press criticizing Amazon’s political contributions and contracts.

Amazon Threatens to Fire Employees

Hundreds of Amazon employees announced their intention to participate in a climate protest to raise awareness about climate change. The next day, Amazon updated its company policy on external communications that added a requirement for there to be a business justification for the communication.  Some employees feel that the policy is designed to suppress public criticism of Amazon. The timing of the change supports that position.

A member of AECJ named in a Washington Post article received warnings from Amazon that a future violation could result in termination. Amazon defends its actions, claiming it was a normal business practice to alert employees of violations of company policy. Whistleblowers at companies who report illegal activity are protected under various whistleblower laws.  These laws provide protection from retaliation, such as termination, demotion, or harassment. Regarding Amazon, it is unclear whether the acts in question could be protected under whistleblower laws.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Advocate for the Rights of Whistleblowers

If you raised concerns about illegal or potentially illegal conduct at work, and experienced or anticipate reprisals for your concerns, contact one of our experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Call us at 215-569-1999 or submit an online contact form for a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and South Jersey.

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