NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) - New York state's attorney
general on Tuesday asked a state judge to appoint a monitor to
oversee worker safety at an Amazon.com Inc fulfillment
center in New York City, citing the retailer's alleged rollbacks
of COVID-19 safety measures that were "already inadequate."
Letitia James, the attorney general, also wants a court
order requiring the rehiring of Christian Smalls, who Amazon
fired for allegedly violating a paid quarantine by leading a
March 2020 protest over conditions at the Staten Island
James, a Democrat running to become New York governor, sued
Amazon in February in a New York state court in Manhattan over
its safety protocols for thousands of workers at the Staten
Island facility and a distribution center in the New York City
borough of Queens.
She said Amazon is valuing profit over safety and "acting as
if the pandemic is over" by rolling back safety protocols even
as the Omicron variant https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/omicron-variant-could-outcompete-delta-south-african-disease-expert-says-2021-11-30
of the COVID-19 virus threatens to increase transmission rates.
The alleged rollbacks include making the Staten Island
facility "mask-optional" for vaccinated workers while not
requiring masks for unvaccinated workers, and failing to enforce
In her motion for a preliminary injunction, James said the
proposed monitor would oversee upgraded cleaning, hygiene and
social distancing procedures.
"While case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths rise, Amazon
rescinds protections and packs in more workers for its holiday
rush," James said in her motion. "Amazon's ongoing - and
worsening - failure to protect workers must be halted."
Amazon said in a statement it has taken a "comprehensive
approach" to COVID-19 safety.
"It's disappointing that the Attorney General is seeking to
politicize the pandemic by asking for 'emergency' relief now
despite having filed this lawsuit nine months ago," Amazon said.
The Seattle-based company is appealing a judge's refusal in
October to dismiss James' lawsuit.
Amazon on Nov. 15 reached a separate settlement with
over claims it violated a state "right-to-know" law by
concealing from warehouse workers and local health agencies the
numbers of workers being infected with COVID-19.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Matthew
Lewis and Stephen Coates)