You are reading

Attorney General Sues Amazon for Failing to Keep Workers Safe From COVID-19

An Amazon employee at work (Photo provided by Amazon)

Feb. 17, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

The New York State Attorney General Letitia James is suing Amazon for allegedly failing to keep its employees safe from COVID-19 – including workers at its facility in Queens.

James filed a lawsuit against Amazon Tuesday, accusing the tech giant of “repeatedly and persistently” failing to take measures to protect its workers from the virus since the outbreak began.

The lawsuit identifies Amazon’s DBK1 distribution center in Woodside, located at 1 Bulova Ave., and its JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island in the filing.

Amazon, in a statement, said that the lawsuit does not accurately reflect the range of efforts the company implemented to keep its workers safe throughout the pandemic.

The lawsuit claims that Amazon did not comply with state requirements for cleaning and disinfecting after it became aware that workers at the facilities had contracted COVID-19. Other requirements the company did not heed included not closing off sections that infected workers had visited and not increasing air circulation in those areas.

Further, Amazon failed to notify healthy workers who had been in contact with infected staff members. The company also did not provide employees with enough time to perform preventative measures like hygiene, sanitation and social distancing practices, according to court documents.

“Amazon’s flagrant disregard for health and safety requirements has threatened serious illness and grave harm to the thousands of workers in these facilities and poses a continued substantial and specific danger to the public health,” the filing reads.

Amazon, the lawsuit alleges, cut corners with safety requirements so as not to jeopardize its sales volume and productivity rates. The lawsuit noted that Amazon generated $130 billion in profits during the pandemic.

The lawsuit also claims that the company took “swift retaliatory action” to silence workers who spoke out against the alleged lax protocols. For example, one employee at the Staten Island facility was fired in late-March while another worker at the fulfillment center was issued a final written warning in April for making complaints, the filing stated.

Last week Amazon filed a preemptive lawsuit in a Brooklyn federal court to try and stop James’ lawsuit.

Amazon argued that the Attorney General does not have the legal authority to sue Amazon for workplace safety violations since federal labor and safety laws take precedence over New York’s laws.

In last week’s filing, Amazon defended its COVID-19 workplace measures, arguing that it has implemented more than 150 health and safety work procedures to protect employees during the pandemic.

The filing stated that, beginning in March, Amazon began to institute daily temperature checks, formalized contact tracing and rearranged workstations and break rooms to implement social distancing rules.

The company said it has also implemented enhanced cleaning protocols and distributed face masks to all workers in April which are required to be worn at all times.

“Amazon’s efforts far exceed what is required under the law, and, as discussed below, go well beyond measures that the Office of the New York Attorney General has deemed comprehensive,” the filing stated.

Amazon’s DBK1 distribution center in Woodside was identified in the lawsuit (Google Maps)

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Queens Botanical Garden hosts Lunar New Year celebration with globally beloved Miffy

About 4,200 people joined the world-renowned beloved rabbit Miffy to ring in the Year of the Rabbit at Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

Queens Botanical Garden’s Lunar New Year celebration included a visit from Councilman Shekar Krishnan, who gave remarks, followed by a program of activities for all ages. Attendees enjoyed a lion dance performance, zodiac crafts, demonstrations, lucky plant sales and more. Miffy was in attendance for photos, story time and to greet children throughout the event.

Mets owner Steve Cohen hosts second community visioning session regarding development of area around Citi Field

Hundreds of community residents and leaders gathered at the Piazza Club inside Citi Field to participate in a visioning session regarding the development of a nearby 50-acre lot. This marked the second visioning session New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has hosted at Citi Field in January as he attempts to collect as much community feedback regarding the development as possible.

Attendees of the visioning session went to a series of interactive stations, sharing what mattered most to them when it came to improving the area around Citi Field, including preferred forms of year-round entertainment, ability to access different forms of transportation and attainable local jobs and training. Information and input was collected from the community in how they would like to see the lot utilized. A common theme among many of those who took part in the visioning session was the desire to see something built there that would bring a lot of economic opportunity to the community and provide year-round entertainment.

NewYork-Presbyterian Queens doctor aims to bring awareness to women’s heart health

With February marking the beginning of American Heart Month, a cardiologist from NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital spoke with QNS about the importance of heart health for women.

According to attending cardiologist Dr. Joanna Troulakis, approximately 400,000 women die as a result of cardiovascular diseases each year in the United States. She noted that women have suffered more cardiovascular disease deaths than men in recent years. When it comes to heart attacks, the mortality rate for women is higher than men.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

‘Where do we go now?’ Michaels set to close its doors in Fresh Meadows next month

The Michaels located at 187-04 Horace Harding Expwy. in Fresh Meadows will be permanently closing its doors on Feb. 23. The announcement that Michaels will be leaving the Fresh Meadows Shopping Center has led to an outpouring of reactions from many community members.

“We know this is disappointing to our customers in Queens, but we hope to continue to serve them at our other locations in New York City or online at Michaels.com,” a spokesperson for Michaels said in a statement to Patch.com.