Some leadership members at Amazon are trying to find a way to make the highly publicized firing of a warehouse employee not look so bad, but that ended up backfiring.
The people over at Vice News obtained a leaked memo that shows company executives discussing a way to make the fired warehouse worker, Christian Smalls, look bad.
“He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position than simply explaining for the umpteenth time how we’re trying to protect workers,” Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky wrote in his notes during the internal meeting. “We should spend the first part of our response strongly laying out the case for why the organizer’s conduct was immoral, unacceptable, and arguably illegal, in detail, and only then follow with our usual talking points about worker safety,” Zapolsky wrote. “Make him the most interesting part of the story, and if possible make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”
Zapolsky told Vice that his “comments were personal and emotional,” adding, “I was frustrated and upset that an Amazon employee would endanger the health and safety of other Amazonians by repeatedly returning to the premises after having been warned to quarantine himself after exposure to virus COVID-19,” he said. “I let my emotions draft my words and get the better of me.”
This conversation happened during a meeting where executives s have been discussing how to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
After firing him, Amazon issued a statement claiming Smalls was let go due to disobeying a company-imposed 14-day quarantine after he was exposed to the virus from another employee who tested positive.