The New York legal professional normal is suing Amazon for “poor” Covid-19 response
New York is suing Amazon over claims the company failed to provide adequate protection to its workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the complaint filed with the state court on Tuesday, New York attorney general Letitia James argued that Amazon’s “poor” response to the pandemic had violated labor law.
The lawsuit alleges that the company did not close its cleaning facilities when it learned of workers’ infections and did not notify workers who were in contact with infected colleagues. It is also alleged that Amazon did not give employees enough leeway at work to perform cleaning jobs, practice social distancing, and take other preventive measures.
“During the historic pandemic, Amazon has repeatedly and persistently violated its obligation to take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect its employees from the spread of the virus” at its New York City facilities, which include a fulfillment center on Staten Island and New York City owns a distribution center in Queens, according to the complaint. “Amazon’s apparent disregard for health and safety requirements has threatened serious illness and harm to the thousands of workers at these facilities and continues to pose a significant and specific public health hazard.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The dispute between Amazon and New York has been brewing for some time. Last week, the company filed a preemptive lawsuit asking a federal court to prevent James from using state law to enforce their requests for the company to subsidize public transportation and hire a health and safety advisor.
Amazon described James’ demands as “exorbitant demands”, arguing in that filing that its existing protection for workers “goes well beyond what is required by law” and “goes well beyond what the Attorney General” deems comprehensive “.
Amazon cited the company’s temperature review policy, signs of social distancing, and fluctuating staff turnover at its Staten Island facility as examples of how it has gone beyond that. An inspection by the city sheriff’s office found “absolutely no problem areas,” according to Amazon.
Prior to this legal filing, James alleged that Amazon failed to comply with health and safety standards in the company’s warehouses.
Other critics of Amazon – including a number of its own employees – said the company was slow to address the risks coronavirus posed for frontline workers.
For example, Amazon only announced temperature studies after numerous reports of diseases and outbreaks at Amazon facilities across the country.