Summary of the Article
According to Peters (2021), Amazon tends to be a global leader in e-commerce and popularity among online shoppers globally. However, the firm’s reputation has constantly taken a hit in the last few years due to engagement in unethical practices. In 2021, for instance, the company was under significant scrutiny for claims linked to the mistreatment of workers. Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, employees reported that they were working in unsanitary contexts that encompass long shifts without restroom access or breaks. The rampant monitoring through technological tools exacerbates this, and this ends up violating the privacy of workers. Moreover, Amazon was under the spotlight for its bad reputation for union-busting, which typically prevents employees from collectively fighting for fair wages and conditions. To make matters worse, the company strived to hide its unethical behavior by creating fake online accounts to counter the employees’ sentiments. The implication is that the top management at Amazon is well aware of the unethical working conditions of the workers in some facilities but would rather cover it than foster corrections.
The author asserts that considering that Amazon is a global e-commerce leader, the issue of unethical working conditions could be prevalent across industries. In this vein, the piece covers common illegal and unethical working conditions like overexertion. It is the major job-linked accident cause in regions like the United States of America. For Amazon, employees like those that engage in delivery services expose themselves to significant risks of injury and accidents. While unethical working contexts existed before the pandemic, its emergence complicated matters as workers got prompted to undergo worse scenarios. An epitome is that most Amazon employees in 2020 and 2021 did not get permission to utilize the restroom during their shifts or even breaks (Peters, 2021). The implication is that they end up being more vulnerable to the virus.
Moreover, collaboration is obliged to fight against unethical workplace conditions. At Amazon, there have been numerous boycotts, with varying consumers campaigning for the unionization of employees. Overall, the piece stipulates that individuals should always speak against unethical companies. The reason is that even constitutional labor laws strive to protect workers in different contexts, like the Amazon warehouses.
Analysis of the Unethical Problem Presented
Of utmost importance is to assert that employees want and always deserve an emotionally and physically safe workplace. In this regard, they want a work context where they can delve into their responsibilities and attain fulfillment instead of worrying about harassment, dangerous conditions, or even discrimination. Moreover, employees expect fair pay and respect regarding their privacy. For Amazon, the company strives to monitor the employees’ productivity, which ends up adversely impacting their psychological and physical health (Klingert, 2023). In this light, productivity tends to trample safety at the firm, and employees’ privacy is also put at risk. For instance, unrealistic expectations are placed on the employees, and they get monitored through ID card swipes and handheld scanners. The implication is that breaks get monitored, and this puts significant pressure on the employees (Winkie, 2022). This depicts a misuse of technological tools, for instance, where breaks get monitored from when an employee scans their last item and starts again. Most warehouses, therefore, end up being defined by contexts of fear fostered by excessive monitoring.
Notably, contemporary entities like Amazon always owe legal and ethical obligations to their employees. It means that the company should treat its workforce with a sense of equality and dignity. The managers and leaders should also serve as mentors and role models for the employees. The reason is that if a firm like Amazon wants the employees to act ethically, it should start at the top, whereby the managers hold themselves to high levels of accountability and integrity by not violating the company policy or the law. Leaders that incline to the concept of getting things done irrespective of whatever it takes constantly send messages that unethical tactics are acceptable. It is the case in Amazon, where the top leadership strived to hide the cases of poor working conditions.
During the pandemic, Amazon turned the United States into a next-day delivery region, and sales surged. For instance, the firm saw total sales soar in the first three months of 2021, leading to an $8.1 billion profit. The sales got generated by around 200 million subscribers to the super-fast delivery service. For the workers, it translated to working under constant pressure. They are also constantly reminded that the firm puts profits above the worker. It prompts workers like the delivery service individuals to work even during holidays. According to a survey of workers linked to a Long Island Amazon warehouse, approximately 42% assert that physical pain is always a daily issue, especially in the lower back and feet (Winkie, 2022). The issue gets exacerbated by the deterioration of sleep schedules and psychological pressures. In the last decade, numerous accidents have been linked to Amazon vehicles. However, it is typically difficult to comprehend the exact figures as the company sometimes outsources the delivery systems to varying firms.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act, dubbed OSHA, passed in 1970, strives to foster the safety of employees. According to OSHA (1970), the law ensures that employers offer a workplace context that is risk-free regarding employees’ health and safety. The obligations of OSHA to employers like Amazon include offering a work context that is free of hazards and, simultaneously, striving to identify yet eliminate safety/health hazards. Moreover, workers who believe their OSHA rights are violated can make an anonymous report where relevant government stakeholders investigate the issue. For Amazon, OSHA possesses the authority to fine the company for serious violations. The fines depict that the government agency is committed to protecting workers from unethical workplace conditions or treatment. Most individuals spend around one-half of their waking hours at the workplace. The management should therefore strive to make work a context where individuals can thrive and remain productive. In this light, employees attain job satisfaction in contexts where they can work and not worry about health insurance, childcare, or even being overworked. Happy employees end up being more productive yet focused, and a culture of organizational citizenship behavior is fostered.
The relationship between employers and employees should be grounded on mutual respect. In this regard, the Bible asserts that employers should always strive to be fair and honest with their employees. Conversely, employers like Amazon can dictate conditions and terms of labor, which takes advantage of the employees’ vulnerabilities. For instance, workers are pressured by targets that they even lack time to visit the restrooms or take a break. The situation worsens, especially for employees who need legal employment documentation. These lack the conventional protections linked to employment agreements or the law. Employers take advantage of such cohorts where they are paid less per hour than legal workers. At other times, the employees are exposed to dangerous working conditions or even sexual harassment. The Bible asserts that holiness should be at the center of thinking in organizations. For instance, Ephesians 6:9 tells employers not to threaten their workforce or even treat them harshly (Napier, 2019). The reason is that God serves as the master of the employee and the employer and does not depict any favoritism. Moreover, Psalm 127:2 stipulates that it is in vain that one rises up early and goes to rest late while depending on the bread of an anxious toil. In this light, employees should not get overworked, exploited, or even expected to live in the workplace. Employers like Amazon are therefore cautioned against unethical behavior like subjecting employees to overwork or even poor compensation.
The purpose of this essay was to offer a review of an article that touches on unethical behavior in the utilization of tech. In this light, it is evident that Amazon has constantly come under fire for mistreating its workers and even violating their privacy through harsh productivity monitoring tools, including drones and automated systems. Overall, it is an unethical practice that treats employees like robots and overlooks their rights as per the varying protective legislations.
Klingert, L. (2023). “stressed, anxious, like a robot”: New survey reveals the impact of working at Amazon. The Brussels Times. https://www.brusselstimes.com/355899/stressed-anxious-like-a-robot-new-survey-reveals-impact-of-working-at-amazon
Napier, C. (2019, July 25). How are business ethics and relationships addressed in the Bible? Christianity.com. https://www.christianity.com/wiki/christian-life/how-are-business-ethics-and-relationships-addressed-in-the-bible.html
Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. §651 et seq. (1970)
Peters, B. (2021, April 14). A closer look at Amazon: Are unethical working conditions on the rise? The Geopolitics. https://thegeopolitics.com/a-closer-look-at-amazon-are-unethical-working-conditions-on-the-rise/
Winkie, L. (2022, May 10). Exhausted workers, polluting journeys: How unethical is next-day delivery? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/may/10/next-day-delivery-unethical-amazon-workers-pollution