In Bipartisan Call for Action, Sens. Marco Rubio, Sherrod Brown Call for Amazon Labor Probe

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio crossed party lines, issuing a joint letter calling on U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh to launch a full investigation into the labor practices of Amazon.

"Recent reports have brought to light troubling working conditions at Amazon that suggest improper treatment of its employees, to the detriment of workers and families across the country," the letter writes. "While U.S. labor and employment laws should always be vigorously upheld, Amazon's size and scope necessitate particular scrutiny by federal regulators when widespread and credible allegations of labor and employment law violations surface."

Amazon is the second largest employer in the United States, trailing only Walmart. Bloomberg reports that the company employs almost 1.5 million Americans. According to Statista, Amazon stands as the fourth largest company in the world with a market cap of over $1.7 trillion.

Given the tech giant's "size and scope," Rubio and Brown write that the company should receive "particular scrutiny by federal regulators" as it faces a number of "widespread and credible" allegations of labor and employment law violations.

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Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown cross party lines, calling on a thorough investigation of Amazon's labor practices. Here, workers and community allies demonstrate during a protest organized by New York Communities for Change and Make the Road New York in front of Amazon founder and then-CEO Jeff Bezos' Manhattan residence in New York on December 2, 2020. Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

In their letter, the two senators draw on reports that the company has subjected employees to "grueling hours" and exhibited a "general lack of responsiveness" to the concerns voiced by employees over the company's "highly automated management practices."

More specifically, the letter references an allegation from the girlfriend of a former warehouse employee at a facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, who said that her boyfriend had sent a message stating that the company would not allow him to leave work despite the area facing a major storm. A tornado brought on by this storm ultimately struck the facility, resulting in the death of this employee and five others.

In addition to this allegation, a number of outlets have reported employees not having time to use the restroom and being forced to urinate in bottles as a way to keep up with quotas. The letter also references a report from The New York Times that "widespread human resources mismanagement" had resulted in the wrongful termination of employees.

Amazon also currently faces scrutiny after the National Labor Relations Board found that during a February and March vote to unionize a facility in Bessemer, Alabama, the company exhibited "flagrant disregard" for the agency's rules and "made a free and fair election impossible."

"These allegations have come at the same time as the company has experienced remarkable growth ... In 2020, the firm's net income nearly doubled relative to the year before, and net sales grew by 38 percent," the letter writes. "Amazon can afford to treat its workers well, and should be held accountable to do so."

Newsweek contacted Amazon for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.