Amazon‘s employees have been complaining about the poor treatment they had to endure during the pandemic while the company continued to make billions. This has led to the employees attempting to form a union as well as taking the company to court which recently got a permission by a Federal court allowing the New York attorney general’s request to move a lawsuit against the eCommerce giant moved back to the New York state court.
According to a report by Reuters, AG Letitia James’s lawsuit alleges that Amazon has failed to protect its workers at its Brooklyn and Staten Island warehouses from COVID-19 during the early months of the pandemic and retaliated by firing employees that complained against the lack of safety measures to allow them do their jobs more efficiently.
Amazon argued against this notion making it clear that there were in fact safety measures in place to keep its employees safe despite subjecting them to work in factories where there reported cases of staffs testing positive to the illness.
Amazon had sought to have the case moved to federal court, arguing that workplace safety issues were not under James’ purview. The company pre-emptively sued James on February 12th, and James sued Amazon four days later. Amazon then moved the lawsuit to federal court.
“Amazon has forced its employees to work in unsafe conditions throughout this pandemic,” James said in a statement following US District Judge Jed Rakoff’s order. “We are pleased with today’s decision to allow this case to be heard in state court, where it belongs.”
However, the ruling never address the merits of the lawsuit which requests an improved state for workers and damages for two Amazon workers who says the company retaliated against them by firing them.
Many workers at the Amazon’s JKF8 warehouse in Staten Island said back in March that they do not have all the necessary protective gears needed to stay safe despite the serious number of cases of COVID-19 in the US alone.
Amazon fired several workers who protested the conditions, including Chris Smalls, who had organized a walkout. The firing of Chris Smalls according to James was “disgraceful” which then led to an investigation by the National Labor Relations Board.
The company’s spokespersons said that the workers were not terminated for talking publicly about the working conditions in the company but that they violated safety policies put in place by the company itself.