Last week, The New York Times published the results of an in-depth investigation into Amazon’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the devastating impact of overly rigid, complex, and punitive policies on low-wage workers who are trying to maintain a paycheck without risking their health. With one stunning example after another, the Times story revealed the human toll of inflexible policies that prioritize profits over people: the spread of a dangerous and highly infectious disease when workers are incentivized to show up sick; the impossible bind faced by workers with caregiving responsibilities when their schedules suddenly change without notice; and the disturbing reality that no matter how sterling an employer’s policies may appear on paper, dysfunctional systems can systematically deprive workers of their benefits and land them unemployed.
We are gratified that this story has shone a spotlight on these issues, of which A Better Balance has long been aware. ABB has represented Amazon workers, and we have heard all too often about how their policies and practices have failed workers. We know from workers and our analysis in Misled & Misinformed how Amazon’s technology and processes are designed to confuse and mislead workers into believing that they don’t have any workplace rights, and make it impossible for them to exercise them. As we highlighted in our report, for these and other reasons, abusive attendance policies and practices used by major employers like Amazon have had a disastrous impact on essential workers during the pandemic, and we must continue to hold them accountable on the heels of the pandemic, as many are reinstating their attendance policies that may have been temporarily suspended.
If you or someone you know has been punished under an abusive attendance policy or system for taking time off to care for yourself or a loved one, please contact our free legal helpline.