US court nixes order barring Amazon from firing workers

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US court nixes order barring Amazon from firing workers
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, October 6, 2021 REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

The Second Circuit on Wednesday vacated a New York federal judge’s order that barred Amazon from firing workers for engaging in union activity. The court said the judge did not provide sufficient explanation for imposing the broad prohibition while also determining that the company did not need to rehire a fired union activist.

In a unanimous decision, the three-judge appeals court panel addressed the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) suit against Amazon.com Services LLC. The NLRB claimed Amazon violated federal labor law by firing Gerald Bryson in April 2020 after he became a prominent critic of the company’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although U.S. District Judge Diane Gujarati’s November 2022 decision partially granted the NLRB’s injunction request, it did not require Amazon to rehire Bryson. Instead, the judge issued a cease-and-desist order barring the company from firing other workers for union activity.

Appeals Court Seeks Clarification

The Second Circuit panel noted that it was unclear from Judge Gujarati’s decision why she found it appropriate to bar Amazon from future firings while not ordering the “closely related relief” of rehiring Bryson based on the same record.