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

New York’s lawyer normal, Letitia James, sued Amazon on Tuesday night, arguing that the corporate supplied insufficient security safety for employees in New York City in the course of the pandemic and retaliated in opposition to workers who raised considerations over the situations.

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 identified Covid-19 instances, and “took swift retaliatory action” to silence complaints from employees.

“Amazon’s extreme profits and exponential growth rate came at the expense of the lives, health and safety of its frontline workers,” Ms. James argued within the grievance, filed in New York Supreme Court.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for Amazon, stated the corporate cared “deeply about the health and safety” of its employees.

“We don’t believe the attorney general’s filing presents an accurate picture of Amazon’s industry-leading response to the pandemic,” Ms. Nantel stated.

Last week, Amazon preemptively sued Ms. James in federal court in an attempt to stop her from bringing the charges. The company argued that workplace safety was a matter of federal, not state, law.

In its 64-page complaint last week, Amazon said its safety measures “far exceed what is required under the law.” It cited a surprise inspection by the New York City Sheriff’s Office that found Amazon “appeared to go above and beyond the current compliance requirements.” The company also detailed other safety measures it had taken, including temperature checks and offering free Covid-19 testing on site.

New York, in its suit, said Amazon received written notification of at least 250 employees at the Staten Island warehouse who had Covid-19. In more than 90 of those cases, the infected employee had been at work in the previous week, yet Amazon did not close portions of the building to provide proper ventilation as the state required, the filing said.

Ms. James said that until at least late June, Amazon did not interview infected workers to determine their close contacts and instead relied on reviewing surveillance footage, which could take three days and did not cover the entire warehouse. The lack of interviews “created a very time-consuming process which did not identify close contacts in a timely fashion,” the complaint said.

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