Podcast: Amazon's Crackdown Sheds Spotlight on Employee Speech
When Amazon threatened to fire employees for speaking out about the company's need to do more on climate change, it created a public relations quagmire. This podcast examines Amazon's ill-fated crackdown and other topical employee speech issues with Kate Bischoff, who runs the Minneapolis-based tHRive Law and Consulting, and Cleveland employment attorney Jonathan Hyman, of Meyers Roman.
Hyman noted that PR issues often trump legal ones. In this case, threatening a couple of employees with termination led to more than 350 Amazon workers speaking out publicly in an online critique. Bischoff suggested the original criticism was the least of the online retail giant's concerns, and said the response runs the risk of hurting Amazon in recruiting and retention.
Bischoff and Hyman said they both are hearing questions from clients about their company communications policies when it comes to what employees can and cannot say outside of the office. With social media, Hyman asserted, "The genie is out of the bottle and it's not going back in," but he added that employers and employees need to reach a better understanding as to what is expected.