By Kevin Deutsch
New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against Amazon over alleged failures to provide adequate health and safety measures for employees at the company’s New York facilities, as well as Amazon’s retaliatory actions against employees amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, James said Wednesday.
In allegedly failing to maintain a safe work environment by reasonably protecting workers from the spread of COVID-19, James said Amazon violated New York State Labor Law.
The company also unlawfully fired and disciplined employees that objected to Amazon’s unsafe work conditions, James said.
“While Amazon and its CEO made billions during this crisis, hardworking employees were forced to endure unsafe conditions and were retaliated against for rightfully voicing these concerns,” said James. “Since the pandemic began, it is clear that Amazon has valued profit over people and has failed to ensure the health and safety of its workers. The workers who have powered this country and kept it going during the pandemic are the very workers who continue to be treated the worst. As we seek to hold Amazon accountable for its actions, my office remains dedicated to protecting New York workers from exploitation and unfair treatment in all forms.”
The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan, argues that Amazon’s actions violated New York labor, whistleblower protection, and anti-retaliation laws. The suit seeks injunctive relief and damages, including:
- Requiring Amazon to take all affirmative steps, including changing policies, conducting training, and undergoing monitoring, among others, to ensure that Amazon reasonably and adequately protects the lives, health, and safety of its employees.
- Awarding backpay, liquidated damages, emotional distress damages, and reinstatement for former employee Christian Smalls.
- Awarding liquidated damages and emotional distress damages for employee Derrick Palmer.
- Requiring Amazon to give up the profits it made as a result of its illegal acts.