Story at a glance

  • The lawsuit claims Amazon’s COVID-19 response violated state law with respect to cleaning and disinfection protocols, contact tracing and allowing employees to take precautions to protect themselves from the risk of infection.
  • It also accuses Amazon of unlawfully retaliating against employees who reported safety concerns
  • The suit comes just days after Amazon asked the Eastern District Court of New York to block the lawsuit, arguing it's out of the attorney general’s purview and its safety protocols have gone above and beyond requirements to protect workers.

New York is suing tech giant Amazon for allegedly failing to provide adequate health and safety measures for more than 5,000 workers at two facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed the lawsuit against Amazon in state court Tuesday, claiming the company’s health and safety response at its Staten Island and Queens warehouses violated state law with respect to cleaning and disinfection protocols, contact tracing and allowing employees to take precautions to protect themselves from the risk of infection. 


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The lawsuit also accuses Amazon of unlawfully retaliating against employees who reported safety concerns, including two employees who made complaints to managers, the media and at least one government agency. One worker was fired, and the other received a written warning. 

James opened an investigation into Amazon in March as New York was being ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. The investigation followed several complaints about the lack of safety measures taken to protect employees at the facility. 

“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,” James said in a news release.

“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,” she said. 

The suit comes just days after Amazon asked the Eastern District Court of New York to block the lawsuit, arguing that it's out of James’s purview and its safety protocols have gone above and beyond requirements to protect workers. 

“We care deeply about the health and safety of our employees, as demonstrated in our filing last week, and we don’t believe the Attorney General’s filing presents an accurate picture of Amazon’s industry-leading response to the pandemic,” Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement Wednesday.


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Published on Feb 17, 2021