The following are the ethical issues associated with the given case:
- The company generates billions of dollars of profit, which is used for expansion purposes but not to improve the working conditions.
- Though workers have to work long shifts, they do not get adequate break time.
- Workers do not have an excellent transportation facility to the warehouse location.
- As per reported OSHA data, worker injury rates are three times more than that of the national average.
- Workers are mistreated.
- Worker safety is compromised in several situations and at various equipment.
- Corrective measures being taken, such as the installation of video monitors, seem like mere lip-service.
- The company is in a denial mode as far as safety issues are concerned.
- Workers are penalized for slow throughput due to product damage.
- Workers lack job security.
- Lack of accessibility-compliant practices.
- Managers have disregard and no compassion towards specially-abled workers
- Workers are subject to extremely stressful work conditions example. Pickers.
- Continuous tracking and surveillance of the workers.
- Prison-like work conditions.
- Work culture is not open and transparent.
- Ignoring worker medical restrictions.
The following are the legal issues associated with the given case study:
- Lack of compliance with basic safety protocols and standards such as OSHA.
- Lack of basic worker safety practices and protocols such as safety lines and strips.
- Lack of a proper work environment.
- Lack of corrective actions despite repeated complaints from workers.
- Lack of fair employment practices, such as unfair termination.
- Lack of compliance with ADA accessibility requirements.
- Warehouse pit lane being used for heavy equipment.
The case study is a classic example of how corporations generate massive profits at their workers’ expense. Profit is increased as a result of increased revenue and lowering of costs. Corporates such as AMZN, push their warehouse employees to deliver more throughput to increase revenues. At the same time, general working conditions and employee amenities are compromised to reduce operational expenses. So, while companies push their employees over the edge in the pursuit of profits, they are left high and dry due to poor work practices.
The government should mandate companies to invest a fixed percentage of their profit towards improving worker safety and general working conditions. This investment should be audited both directly and through employee surveys and validated. In case of non-compliance, governments should publish a list of defaulters and penalize them heavily.
In this particular case study, the information has been shared for one warehouse. It would be interesting to review similar data (like OSHA safety data) from other warehouse locations to understand if this a specific issue or if the issues are spread across the company. Simultaneously, similar data needs to be accessed for AMZN’s competitors, such as WLMT, to see how one company fares against competitors. There is an opportunity to learn and adopt the best practices both from within and outside.