A Vice President of cloud computing wing of Amazon has quit on Monday over the recent firings of workers who had raised questions about workplace safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tim Bray, a prominent engineer said the firings were "evidence of a vein of toxicity running through the company culture," reported The New York Times.
He wrote in a blog post that, he criticized a number of recent firings by Amazon, including that of an employee in a Staten Island warehouse, Christian Smalls, who led a protest in March calling for the company to provide workers with more protections.
"My last day at Amazon was on Friday," he added.
Smalls's firing has drawn the scrutiny of New York State's attorney general.
Bray also criticized the firing last month of two Amazon employees, Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham, who circulated a petition in March on internal email lists that called on Amazon to expand sick leave, hazard pay and child care for warehouse workers.
They had also helped organize a virtual event for warehouse employees to speak to tech workers at the company about its workplace conditions and coronavirus response.
Bray, who had worked for the company for more than five years, called the fired workers as whistle-blowers.
"I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison," he wrote.
Amazon declined to comment on Monday. The company had previously said it fired Smalls because he had violated its policies by leaving a quarantine — he had previously been exposed to a sick worker — to attend the protest at the site.
Amazon told about the other two employees, Costa and Cunningham that they had violated a policy that forbids Amazon workers from asking their co-workers to donate to causes or sign petitions.
Bray had previously worked at Google and Sun Microsystems and is one of the architects of XML, a markup language developed more than 20 years ago that has been used extensively to code web pages.
He said in an email that he did not have any specific goals in mind when he wrote the blog post and that he did not expect it to receive much attention.
"I'm a blogger and I share the story of my life when I think it might interest or help others," he said.
Bray's resignation came as Amazon has drawn scrutiny over the safety of hundreds of thousands of its workers who are helping pack and ship products to millions of homebound Americans.
Employees have protested at several Amazon facilities, saying they feel unsafe and fear warehouses have been contaminated with the coronavirus. Other employees are demanding better pay or more sick leave.
Last month, Amazon came under fire after leaked notes, published by Vice News, showed Amazon's top lawyer saying that Smalls could be portrayed as inarticulate and discussing strategy for making him out to be the face of the worker movement.
Senators Ohio and Senators New Jersey, have written to Amazon's chief executive, Jeff Bezos, to express concern about warehouse safety.
The company has rolled out various safety measures at its warehouses across the country, such as temperature checks and mandatory masks.
Bray acknowledged in his blog post that Amazon was prioritizing warehouse safety. But he said he also believed the workers.