Case Study

Big Brother is Watching at Amazon: Employee Responses During the Pandemic

Stephanie Thomason, University of Tampa, Bella Galperin, University of Tampa
December 1, 2022
North America
Ethics & Social Justice, Operations, Human Resources & Organizational Behavior
3 pages
time off task, surveillance, termination, Working Conditions
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.7)
Average rating: 

The case opens during the COVID pandemic in October 2020 with a protest by two dozen workers of the termination of a Black, female, Muslim employee in Amazon’s Shakopee, Minnesota, plant for taking too much time off task (TOT). She had formed a group to protest working conditions and Amazon’s surveillance system, which tracked the TOT. Employees worked in a very fast-paced environment, processing 1,800 packages per hour, leading to relatively high accident and injury rates. As this case took place in the United States, employees have legal protections against wrongful terminations based on their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, color, and national origin. They are also given legal protections under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to engage in “protected concerted activities” to protest their working conditions. The CI examines the ethical, health, and well-being issues associated with TOT systems and whether Amazon should choose to retain them.

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon completion of this case, students will:

1. Identify and analyze ethical issues in maintaining employee health and well-being in organizations.

2. Apply components of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to a situation.

3. Recognize worker protections offered under the NLRA.
4. Evaluate the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace