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Monday, February 24, 2020

Employment attorney: Amazon cannot retaliate against warehouse employees participating in Prime Day strike

Attorneys & Judges

By John Suayan | Jul 16, 2019


SEATTLE (Legal Newsline) – Workers employed by Amazon who strike during one of its busiest periods are protected from adverse action, a Washington employment attorney said.

With the 2019 edition of Amazon Prime Day here, Amazon workers at a Minnesota-based warehouse intend to strike starting today as millions of shoppers scour the website for Black Friday-like discounts.

Kristi Favard with the firm Sapphire Legal PLLC, who is licensed in Washington, where Amazon's corporate offices are located, explained to Legal Newsline that the workers – although they do not have a union – have the right to participate in or support the strike, especially if they are part of a collective group.

“The employer is prohibited by law from taking any kind of adverse action because the employees are performing a protected activity, meaning that ... they are going to human resources to make a complaint, they file a complaint with a state or federal agency, or they go to their boss or supervisor about a work condition or wages in order to lodge a complaint,” Favard said. “[The employer] cannot retaliate against [them] for performing that protected activity.”

According to Favard, the striking employees must still follow the law in addition to complying with company policy. Meanwhile, the company cannot discipline, terminate or suspend a worker in response to his or her engagement in a protected activity, said the attorney.

Favard additionally advised employees who strike to note changes in interactions with their superiors.

“Document,” she said. “If you’re noticing that there’s been a sudden shift of attitude towards you … document it, watch for these signs, and if there’s too many of them, call a lawyer.”

Favard, who has practiced law for more than 15 years, stated that the Minnesota workers raised issue with Amazon’s demands that they meet production quotas at the expense of their breaks and mealtimes. Their grievances purportedly prompted the Prime Day strike.

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