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New York sues Amazon over worker safety during pandemic

New York is suing Amazon, claiming the company failed to provide workers with a safe environment at two warehouses as COVID-19 infections surged nationwide.
Credit: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File
FILE - In this March 30, 2020 file photo, workers at Amazon's fulfillment center in Staten Island, N.Y., gather outside to protest work conditions in the company's warehouse in New York. Amazon is facing a lawsuit from the New York Attorney General’s office that claims the online shopping powerhouse didn’t provide adequate health and safety measures for workers at its New York facilities during the coronavirus pandemic and took retaliatory action against multiple employees.

NEW YORK — New York Attorney General Letitia James is taking on one of the world's largest companies in a new lawsuit.

According to the filing, James claims that Amazon failed to protect employees working through the COVID-19 pandemic. She says the company failed to put proper safety measures in place at the company's New York's facilities. The suit also claims Amazon retaliated against workers who made complaints about safety protocols. 

James opened the investigation into Amazon in March of 2020 following "numerous" complaints by workers about the lack of precautions being taken by the company. The main focus of the investigation is on two facilities downstate; JFK8, a fulfillment center on Staten Island, and DBK1, a distribution center in Queens. When the complaints were made, Staten Island had the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 diagnoses in New York City.

The Attorney General's investigation found evident the claims Amazon’s health and safety response violated state law. This included cleaning and disinfection protocols and contact tracing. In at least seven instances Amazon failed to close any portion of the facility after learning of the positive cases. Additionally, Amazon implemented an inadequate COVID-19 tracing program that failed to consistently identify workers who came into close contact with employees who tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the suit, the AG is seeking an injunction on the policies as well as damages for some employees impacted by the policies. 

You can read the full filing here.