Amazon Sued Over COVID Workplace Conditions
The e-commerce giant is being sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who claims that the company failed to protect workers at two facilities in New York City during the pandemic.
James was first sued by Amazon last week for probing into the company’s workers’ COVID protection practices after it passed an unannounced inspection at one of its facilities on March 30, the New York Post reported.
Amazon filed the suit to stop James from moving forward with any legal action against the company, saying that “the Sheriff’s lieutenant who led the inspection concluded that complaints about JFK8 were ‘completely baseless’ and that ‘there were absolutely no areas of concern.’”
The attorney general fired back at Amazon with a lawsuit filed in a New York state court in Manhattan on Tuesday, saying that the company “repeatedly and persistently failed” to adequately protect workers at warehouses located in Staten Island and Queens, according to the court filing obtained by the New York Post.
“Since at least March 2020 when the COVID-19 outbreak began to devastate New York City, Amazon failed to comply with requirements for cleaning and disinfection when infected workers had been present in its facilities,” the suit said.
James continued in her lawsuit by saying, “Amazon failed to adequately identify and notify potential contacts of such infected workers; and Amazon failed to ensure that its discipline and productivity policies, and productivity rates automated by line-speeds, permitted its employees to take the time necessary to engage in hygiene, sanitation, social-distancing.
The lawsuit filed by James also mentions Christian Smalls, who she claims was retaliated against and fired last March after he violated a paid quarantine by leading a protest over conditions at a Staten Island warehouse, Reuters reported.
In the lawsuit, James said that Amazon profited more than $130 billion in sales during the pandemic – a 35% growth from pre-pandemic earnings and a 10% increase from prior years – while workers were exposed to the virus due to the alleged conditions at the facilities.
Kelly Nantel, a spokesperson for Amazon, told the Post that James’ claims are inaccurate.
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