HomeNewsAmazon Driver Nearly Fired Over Tornado Safety Dispute: Report

Amazon Driver Nearly Fired Over Tornado Safety Dispute: Report

by Michael Freeman
(Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

During the recent devastating tornadoes, one sadly hit an Illinois Amazon distribution center and killed six people. An Amazon driver has since come forward, saying her boss threatened to fire her if she didn’t drive during the tornado warning.

Bloomberg received exclusive texts from the driver between her and her boss. This occurred before the tornado hit the Edwardsville, Illinois Amazon facility. After repeatedly asking her supervisor to return, the person kept denying her request, saying Amazon hadn’t given the go-ahead yet. Things came to a head when her boss said she could do what she wanted regarding safety. However, by refusing to do her route it “will ultimately end with you not having a job come tomorrow morning.”

The texts begin with the driver saying her radio began malfunctioning. Her boss quickly replied to keep going because Amazon hadn’t said anything about it. Things got more serious shortly afterward, with tornado alarms going off about 40 minutes later.

“Just keep delivering for now,” her boss replied once again. “We have to wait for word from amazon if we need to bring people back.” The next text read “Shelter in place for now, I just got word from Amazon. I will let everyone know if that changes.”

The Amazon driver then said for her own personal safety, she would head back. Eventually, she noted the storm would be “right on top” of her. That’s when her superior stated the choice is hers, but it’s safest to stay where she is. If she came back with her packages though, it would be seen as her refusing her route which would end with her termination.

Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in a statement the dispatcher did not follow standard safety practices. She also said they are investigating the incident.

Amazon Said the Tornado in Illinois Formed in the Warehouse’s Parking Lot

The Illinois Amazon driver was right in her concern for safety the night it hit. It’s known the tornado would be close to the facility, but Amazon claims it formed in the warehouse’s very parking lot.

An Amazon spokeswoman, Kelly Nantel, spoke to the New York Times about the tragedy. In her statement, she expressed certainty the tornado materialized in the parking lot. Stating the process took roughly 11 minutes, the storm formed there and began wreaking havoc. Though Amazon is uncertain exactly how many workers were there at the time, it averages 200 people per shift. Many drivers and employees vouch for what happened, recounting the horrific event.

“I felt like the floor was coming off the ground,” delivery driver Alonzo Harris said. “I felt the wind blowing and saw debris flying everywhere, and people started screaming and hollering and the lights went out.”

The facility sits on top of flat terrain, unfortunately making it an easy place for a tornado to strike. We know at least 45 people working that evening made it to safety, but 6 grievously lost their lives.