In keeping with a theme today about companies acting as moral arbiters and social activists, Amazon reportedly threatened to fire employees who are pushing it to better combat climate change if they continue to speak out on internal matters.
According to a Bloomberg report citing an Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) spokesperson said two employees were threatened with termination and four others were reprimanded in meetings because they were in violation of company policies on workers speaking out to the press and on social media.
User experience designer Maren Costa was threatened with firing after speaking to the Washington Post — which is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, according to a statement the group put out.
“This is not the time to shoot the messengers,” Costa said. “This is not the time to silence those who are speaking out.”
Amazon spokesperson Jaci Anderson said the company’s external communications policy isn’t a new thing, and that employees should work within their teams, where they can suggest “improvements to how we operate through those internal channels.”
The tech industry has been rife with employee activism in recent years. Google parent Alphabet even backed out of a Defense Department drone program and opted not to bid on a contract to build cloud services program for the Pentagon after workers raised concerns. Microsoft and Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) also pressured executives about their company’s dealings with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Amazon has also faced a fair amount of pressure from employees over how much it contributes to greenhouse gases. A group of employees put out a shareholder resolution that called on the company to report on its preparations to curb emissions and reduce the use of fossil fuels — but shareholders rejected the proposal last May.
Days before hundreds of employees held a rally at Amazon’s company headquarters to kick off a march with other climate activists, Bezos announced Amazon would be powered entirely by renewable energies by 2030 and climate neutral by 2040.
Nevertheless, Amazon changed its policy on workers speaking out to the media, and the new policy says they must seek approval before speaking about the company in any public forum in which they’re identified as an employee beginning in spring of 2019.
“I encourage you to review the policy again and in the future anytime you may consider speaking about Amazon’s business in a public forum,” Amazon HR employee Eric Sjoding wrote in an email to Bloomberg.