New York State is suing Amazon for alleged worker safety failures during COVID-19


New York Lawyer Normal Letitia James filed a lawsuit in opposition to Amazon within the state’s supreme courtroom on Tuesday, claiming the corporate failed to guard its staff early on within the COVID-19 pandemic and in addition retaliated in opposition to staff who voiced considerations over what they felt had been insufficient security measures.

The information, reported yesterday by The New York Times, follows Amazon’s choice earlier this month to preemptively sue the New York AG’s office in an effort to stop James from bringing expenses, doing so by making an attempt to have jurisdiction over its office security measures in New York be deemed a federal challenge not throughout the purview of the state AG.

“Amazon’s excessive earnings and exponential progress charge got here on the expense of the lives, well being and security of its frontline staff,” James argued within the 31-page criticism. “Amazon’s flagrant disregard for well being and security necessities has threatened critical sickness and grave hurt to the 1000’s of staff in these services and poses a continued substantial and particular hazard to the general public well being.”

The criticism cites a lot of alleged offenses stemming from Amazon’s therapy of New York Metropolis staff at a warehouse facility on Staten Island and a supply facility in Queens. These embrace Amazon’s alleged failure to inform staff in a well timed method of after they had been involved with staff who examined constructive for the coronavirus, Amazon’s alleged insufficient and “legally poor” contact tracing measures to comprise outbreaks, and Amazon’s alleged failure to shut down and sanitize elements of its services that housed staff who examined constructive.

The criticism additionally singles out Amazon’s alleged retaliation against workers, together with fired Staten Island warehouse employee Christian Smalls, who vocally criticized the corporate’s working situations and helped organized a major March protest in opposition to its dealing with of the coronavirus. “Amazon staff moderately worry that in the event that they make authentic well being and security complaints about Amazon’s Covid-19 response, Amazon will retaliate in opposition to them as properly,” James wrote.

Smalls made nationwide headlines final yr when, after serving to arrange the employee protest, he was fired. Amazon mentioned it was as a result of Smalls violated firm coverage by attending a protest outdoors the Staten Island facility he labored after he was advised to remain dwelling on paid go away as a result of he had been uncovered to a co-worker who examined constructive.

Nonetheless, leaked assembly notes released last spring by Vice News confirmed high-level firm executives discussing ways to smear Smalls and use him to discredit rising labor actions in search of to unionize Amazon’s varied warehouse and Complete Meals workforces. Smalls is now suing Amazon for racial discrimination.

The New York AG go well with is asking that Amazon change its insurance policies to raised defend employee security, create new coaching and security monitoring protocols, and pay misplaced wages and damages to James in addition to providing to rehire him.

In Amazon’s 64-page lawsuit it filed in opposition to the AG’s workplace earlier this month, the corporate argued it went above and past what it was required to do by state legislation. Amazon mentioned in an announcement to The New York Occasions that it cared “deeply in regards to the well being and security” of its warehouse staff and that it supposed to struggle the lawsuit. “We don’t imagine the legal professional normal’s submitting presents an correct image of Amazon’s industry-leading response to the pandemic,” an Amazon spokesperson mentioned.



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