An Amazon executive said he quit his job at the online retailer "in dismay" over the firing of employees who spoke up about the conditions inside the company's warehouses and its record on climate change.
Tim Bray, a vice president at the company, wrote in a blog post on Monday that he left his job last week after Amazon fired several workers last month who publicly criticized the company. The dismissals are "evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture," he said.
The firings came amid growing concerns from workers who walked off the job at warehouses in New York, Detroit and Chicago, drawing attention to issues such as a lack of personal protective equipment.
Bray specifically cited the firings of two employees who criticized the company's warehouse operations and climate policies, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, as a breaking point for him.
"The justifications were laughable; it was clear to any reasonable observer that they were turfed for whistleblowing." Bray wrote in his post. "At that point I snapped. VPs shouldn't go publicly rogue, so I escalated through the proper channels and by the book."
Bray said he wasn't at liberty to disclose those conversations. He added that continuing working at Amazon would have meant "signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned."
In a statement, a spokesperson for Amazon said, "We support every employee's right to criticize their employer's working conditions, but that does not come with blanket immunity against any and all internal policies. We terminated these employees for repeatedly violating internal policies."
Among those fired was a New York warehouse worker who led a strike last month, pushing Amazon for more protections for workers against the coronavirus. At the time, Amazon said the worker was fired for not obeying social-distancing rules.
The Amazon spokesperson said in a statement that the company is investing in employee safety: "Our top concern is ensuring the health and safety of our employees, and we expect to invest approximately $4 billion from April to June on COVID-related initiatives to get products to customers and keep employees safe."Amazon and Instacart workers walking off job amid safety concerns over coronavirus
Bray, who said he worked at Amazon's cloud business for more than five years, said his resignation will cost him personally because of the loss of salary and company stock.
"This will probably cost me over a million (pre-tax) dollars, not to mention the best job I've ever had, working with awfully good people," he wrote. "So I'm pretty blue."