Many businesses have shut down due to the statewide stay-at-home order, which may extend beyond May 15. Amazon is one of the few retail businesses doing exceptionally well during these difficult times. In fact, the company plans to add 175,000 new employees to keep up with the demand.
Amazon has not built a very good reputation for themselves when it comes to worker safety. In November of 2019, we discussed how Amazon was pushing its warehouse employees to work faster, despite the risks.
Now, the Staten Island facility is back in the news for allegedly violating federal safety standards, according to NPR.
Workers speak out about unsafe conditions at Amazon
The retail giant was recently placed under scrutiny after an employee was fired for protesting the company's failure to protect workers from COVID-19 infection. Amazon alleges that the employee was fired for violating quarantine and failing to take safety measures.
The employee raised concerns about:
- Enforcement of the 6-foot social distancing guidelines in the facility
- Poor sanitation and cleaning practices
- The company allowing infected workers to come in and out of the facility
New York officials assert that Amazon fired the employee to silence him. They say the company has prevented others from speaking out about workplace safety concerns. Officials also assert that the New York attorney general will investigate other cases of alleged retaliation by Amazon.
"This Office has learned that many workers are fearful about speaking out about their concerns following the termination of Mr. Smalls' employment," said a letter by the attorney general. "This is a particularly dangerous message to send during a pandemic, when chilling worker speech about health and safety practices could literally be a matter of life and death."
Many Amazon workers across the U.S. have staged walkouts. They are protesting the company's poor safety standards and sick leave policies. They have also demanded the company to shut down its facilities until it addresses it's COVID-19 risk to workers.
An official at Amazon responded by saying:
"The truth is masks, temperature checks, hand sanitizer, social distancing measures, increased time off, increased pay, and more are standard across our network because we care deeply about the health and safety of our employees."
Our New York attorneys represent workers injured or sickened on the job
Employers have a duty to ensure that workers are properly trained, safety standards are being enforced, and facilities are properly maintained. If you sustained an injury or became infected with COVID-19 on the job, you may be eligible to obtain workers' compensation benefits.
Be sure to notify your employer if you have been injured, tested positive for COVID-19, or noticed any of these symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or pressure
Then, consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can help guide you through the process of filing a claim.
Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP Attorneys At Law represents clients in the five borough of NYC and across New York State. Contact us online to schedule a free legal consultation. If you're unable to meet in person, your consultation can be conducted remotely via FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, phone, or text.