New York Sues Amazon, Saying It Inadequately Protected Employees From Covid-19

New York’s legal professional normal, Letitia James, sued Amazon on Tuesday night, arguing that the corporate offered insufficient security safety for employees in New York Metropolis throughout the pandemic and retaliated towards workers who raised issues over the circumstances.

The case focuses on two Amazon amenities: a big warehouse on Staten Island and a supply depot in Queens. Ms. James argues that Amazon didn’t correctly clear its buildings, performed insufficient contact tracing for recognized Covid-19 circumstances, and “took swift retaliatory motion” to silence complaints from employees.

“Amazon’s excessive income and exponential progress price got here on the expense of the lives, well being and security of its frontline employees,” Ms. James argued within the criticism, filed in New York Supreme Courtroom.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for Amazon, stated the corporate cared “deeply concerning the well being and security” of its employees.

“We don’t consider the legal professional normal’s submitting presents an correct image of Amazon’s industry-leading response to the pandemic,” Ms. Nantel stated.

Final week, Amazon preemptively sued Ms. James in federal court docket in an try to cease her from bringing the fees. The corporate argued that office security was a matter of federal, not state, regulation.

In its 64-page criticism final week, Amazon stated its security measures “far exceed what’s required beneath the regulation.” It cited a shock inspection the New York Metropolis Sheriff’s Workplace that discovered Amazon “appeared to go above and past the present compliance necessities.” The corporate additionally detailed different security measures it had taken, together with temperature checks and providing free Covid-19 testing on website.

New York, in its swimsuit, stated Amazon obtained written notification of not less than 250 workers on the Staten Island warehouse who had Covid-19. In additional than 90 of these circumstances, the contaminated worker had been at work within the earlier week, but Amazon didn’t shut parts of the constructing to supply correct air flow because the state required, the submitting stated.

Ms. James stated that till not less than late June, Amazon didn’t interview contaminated employees to find out their shut contacts and as an alternative relied on reviewing surveillance footage, which may take three days and didn’t cowl your entire warehouse. The shortage of interviews “created a really time-consuming course of which didn’t establish shut contacts in a well timed vogue,” the criticism stated.

She additionally argued that Amazon retaliated towards Christian Smalls, a employee the corporate fired within the spring. Mr. Smalls had been elevating security issues with managers and led a public protest within the parking zone of the Staten Island facility.

Amazon has stated Mr. Smalls was fired for going to the work website for the protest although he was on paid quarantine go away after he had been uncovered to a colleague who had examined constructive for the coronavirus.

Ms. James’s submitting stated two Amazon human sources workers mentioned Mr. Smalls’s state of affairs in writing. The workers stated they thought it was unfair to fireside him as a result of he didn’t enter the constructing and since Amazon had not advised him that the corporate’s quarantine coverage prohibited him from being exterior the ability.

Ms. James stated that firing Mr. Smalls and reprimanding one other protest chief, Amazon despatched a chilling message to others.

“Amazon workers moderately concern that in the event that they make official well being and security complaints about Amazon’s Covid-19 response, Amazon will retaliate towards them as effectively,” she argued.

The state stated Amazon ought to change its insurance policies, conduct coaching and bear security monitoring, and that it ought to pay misplaced wages and different damages to Mr. Smalls and provide him his job again.

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