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U.S. Labor Board Sues Amazon to Reinstate Fired Worker

The lawsuit comes as the online retail giant also faces two union votes.

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Per AP News, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a lawsuit against Amazon, advocating for the reinstatement of an employee it claims was fired in retaliation for leading protests over safety concerns regarding the company's Covid-19 protocols in April 2020.

Gerald Bryson worked at Amazon's Staten Island warehouse (JFK8) until he was fired at the start of the pandemic. At one point during a protest, Bryson got into a heated exchange with another worker, his attorney confirmed. Amazon cited the incident as grounds for Bryson's firing, claiming he violated the company's vulgar-language policy.

In a recent filing cited by Engadget, the NLRB highlights a video recording that confirms Bryson's use of foul language, but also reveals that the other employee, a white female, used foul language as well and directed a racial slur at Bryson. The female employee was let off with a warning.

Bryson will be able to resume his position at Amazon if the court approves the NLRB's request.

Related: An Amazon Driver Was Told She Would Be Fired If She Didn't Continue Delivering Packages Despite Tornado Warnings: Report

In December, New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is suing Amazon over Covid-19 safety measures, also filed a request to force the company to reinstate Christian Smalls, another fired employee who is a leader in the Amazon Labor Union, which aims to unionize JFK8.

The NLRB's lawsuit comes as Amazon faces union votes at both the Staten Island facility where Bryson worked and at the company's Bessemer, Alabama warehouse. In-person voting will begin next week for those at the Staten Island facility and is already underway via mail-in ballot for those in Bessemer.

The NLRB has also requested Amazon post a copy of the court order at the JFK8 facility in all breakrooms, bathrooms, bathroom stalls and any other locations where notices for employees are typically found, and for English and Spanish versions to be made available on internet sites or apps the company uses to commnicate with its employees. Additionally, the labor board has asked for the order to be read aloud during at a least one mandatory meeting.

Related: Amazon Sued by New York Over 'Flagrant Disregard' for Covid-19 Safety

Kathy Drew King, a regional director for the NLRB office overseeing the lawsuit, said in a statement, "No matter how large the employer, it is important for workers to know their rights — particularly during a union election — and that the NLRB will vociferously defend them."

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