Judge Dismissed a Coronavirus Safety Lawsuit Against Amazon
On Monday, a New York federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Amazon.com that accused the company of failing to stop the spread of the coronavirus through unsafe working conditions, CNBC reported. The judge deferred to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The complaint against the e-commerce giant was filed by four employees at Amazon's Staten Island, New York fulfillment center (JFK8) in June. The lawsuit argued that Amazon violated "public nuisance and workplace safety laws" by miscommunication with employees and prioritizing productivity before safety. The lawsuit also claimed that Amazon violated New York labor law by failing to provide coronavirus sick pay to employees.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon warehouse workers have repeatedly criticized the retailer's response. The company has denied those accusations and pushed back, claiming instead that it has gone to great lengths to protect employees.
Total Retail's Take: This isn't the first issue warehouse employees at JFK8 have had with Amazon during the pandemic. Employees held a protest in March to demand that the facility be shut down for extra cleaning. Last month, Amazon revealed that nearly 20,000 front-line employees contracted COVID-19 between March 1 and Sept. 19. It will be interesting to see if the JFK8 employees decide to file an OSHA complaint. And if they do, will there be retribution for that action?
Amazon was deemed an essential retailer, much to its financial benefit as consumers stuck in their homes during the height of the pandemic filled their online carts like never before, and thus its warehouses were busier than ever. Did they operate at the expense of their employees' health? It appears that question will be up to OSHA to answer.
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Ashley Chiaradio is the Senior Content Strategist at Total Retail. Ashley has been creating content for more than 7 years, and provides a unique insight in covering the retail industry having worked directly for retailers in the past. She’s passionate about profiling women leadership in the space.