The news: New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Amazon on Tuesday evening, accusing the tech giant of failing to protect workers from COVID-19. It follows an attempt by Amazon to block James from suing as part of a pre-emptive suit filed Friday that defended its COVID-19 response at major facilities in Staten Island and Queens, N.Y., and across the country.
AG’s suit: James says Amazon failed to comply with cleaning and safety requirements after positive COVID-19 cases were identified at its facilities. The suit notes that Amazon’s record profits amid the pandemic came “at the expense of its frontline workers who have experienced significant risks of COVID-19 infection while working at Amazon.” It also accuses Amazon of illegally retaliating against employees who complained about the company’s COVID-19 response.
Background: The dispute dates back to the early days of the pandemic at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island and DBK1 delivery station in Queens.
- It involves two Amazon workers, Christian Smalls and Derrick Palmer, who spoke out over safety conditions at Amazon’s giant JFK8 fulfillment center.
- Amazon fired Smalls but insists it was due to him breaking safety protocols by putting other workers at risk to COVID-19 during a walkout after he was told to quarantine.
- The dispute was fueled by a leaked memo in which Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky criticized Smalls as “not smart or articulate,” for which Zapolsky later apologized.
AG’s requests: The state wants Amazon to change its policies; conduct training for employees; award damages to Smalls and offer to reinstate him; among other requests.
Amazon’s suit: The company on Friday asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York for a declaration that the state AG lacks authority to regulate workplace safety conditions governed by federal law, or to take action over claims that the company retaliated against workers who protested over those conditions.
We’ve reached out to Amazon for its response to James’ suit and will update this story when we hear back.
Originally published at https://www.geekwire.com/2021/new-york-ag-sues-amazon-accuses-company-flagrant-disregard-health-safety-workers/ on .