Amazon sued after New York warehouse worker infected with coronavirus
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Jun 04, 2020, 01:25 pm
Amazon.com Inc has been taken to court for allegedly fostering the spread of the novel coronavirus by creating unsafe working conditions, which caused one employee to contract the disease, who brought it home and in turn has led to her cousin's death. Three employees of the JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island along with family members of the complainant filed a complaint at the federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on Wednesday.
An employee named Barbara Chandler said she tested positive for coronavirus in March and witnessed her family members turn sick among whom was a cousin, who passed away on April 7. The complaint states that Amazon's JFK8 housing as many as 5,000 employees has become a "place of danger" by hindering efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus and has instead laid focus on increasing productivity at the cost of safety of the workers. It further read that Amazon employees are forced to work at "dizzying speeds, even if doing so prevents them from socially distancing, washing their hands, and sanitizing their work spaces."
There has been no comment on behalf of Amazon regarding the lawsuit, but a statement was issued saying guidelines were being followed and workplace safety was also being emphasized ever since the pandemic began. With a majority of the public unable to visit stores for purchase, many have resorted to buying online and the Seattle-based company has as a result benefited quite a lot. Amazon's treatment of its workers have come under the scanner as well by unions, elected officials and some employees while many have also questioned the firing of those who questioned the warehouse conditions. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos last week said Amazon has not fired employees for such criticism.
More than $800 million is being spent by Amazon on coronavirus safety in the first half of 2020, which also includes cleaning, frequent temperature checks and face masks. At least 800 workers in various Amazon distribution centers in the U.S. are said to have tested positive for COVID-19, as per an employee's unofficial tally. The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring that Amazon adhere to worker safety and public nuisance laws, and not punish employees who develop coronavirus symptoms or are quarantined. The case is Palmer et al v Amazon.com Inc., US District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 20-02468.