In late September 2019, reportedly 2,000 or so Amazon employees walked off the job in a protest they called “Amazon Employees for Climate Justice.” The employees who participated in the walk-off work in Amazon properties across 25 cities and 14 countries. Another 3,000 or so employees from other tech companies in Seattle reportedly joined in on the walk-off to show their support.
The walk-off was apparently to convince CEO Jeff Bezos into taking further action for his company to become ecofriendly. Bezos recently announced that Amazon will be “carbon neutral” by 2040, with it hitting the halfway goal in 2030. A carbon neutral company is one that helps eliminate carbon pollution at the same rate it adds to the problem. Protestors say this is a “great start” but not enough for the massive corporation. They want to see Bezos make a plan to be carbon neutral by 2030 and possibly carbon negative after that.
While the endgame goal of positive climate change and corporate responsibility is a good one, what does affect does the walk-off have now? Can those who walked off the job be fired for it?
Do NLRA Protections Apply to Walk-Offs?
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) allows workers in the private sector to collective act and organize. It is commonly used to protect workers who go on strikes for better workplace conditions. There are also federal whistleblower protections that can extend to walk-off employees if they are protesting due to their employer violating a law or regulation.
However, the Amazon employees weren’t exactly striking and they weren’t blowing a whistle to alert others of company violations. They were merely acting as climate change activists who expected more from their employer. It is unlikely that any federal protections will apply to this walk-off campaign, and the participants could be terminated by Amazon. Technically, all participants left their workplace without notice and for a non-work-related activity, which is clear grounds for termination in at-will employment states.
Will Amazon Fire the Protestors?
At this time, it is not known if any climate change protestors from Amazon were terminated for their staged walk-off last month. It is likely that the corporation is well aware of the negative press they would get if they fired people who were demanding better climate responsibility. The current sociopolitical climate is heated over global warming. Any company that seems to oppose the concept of shrinking their carbon footprint is likely to get lambasted or boycotted. It is also entirely possible that Bezos understands the message of his company’s walk-off participants and will take it to heart.
You can learn more about the Amazon walk-off by clicking here and visiting a full article from CNN Business. If you need help standing up for your rights as an employee of a California-based corporation, you can call (888) 796-4010 to connect with Polaris Law Group. Attorney Bill Marder has more than 25 years of legal experience standing up for workers like you in a variety of employment law cases.