Barbara Chandler believes that she signed COVID-19 at work in March. She worked in an Amazon warehouse in New York, where she experienced “a culture of fear in the workplace, through constant technological surveillance, retaliation against those who speak out, and the threat of automatic and instant job loss at one Labor market where it may be impossible to find work elsewhere, ”said a lawsuit filed this week at the Federal Court in New York.
Less than a month after being infected with the virus, Chandler said she woke up and found the cousin she was living with dead after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
Chandler and several other Amazon camp employees and their relatives are now suing the company for failing to take adequate security measures to protect workers and their families from COVID-19. Except for the quarantine payment, which Chandler said Amazon did not, the lawsuit does not claim damages for past damage. “All they’re looking for is an order that Amazon must comply with public health guidelines to avoid further harm in the future,” the complaint said.
The lawsuit stands out from other legal challenges related to Amazon’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, as the company is accused of the death of a warehouse employee’s relative.
Bloomberg news first reported on the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, there were at least 44 cases of COVID-19 and one death from the virus in the warehouse where the plaintiffs work, JFK8. Amazon has repeatedly refused to disclose the number of infections among its workforce.
JFK8 has long been a hotspot for employee activism, a trend that accelerated during the pandemic. The facility’s staff organized strikes and publicly called for more comprehensive security protection. Amazon dismissed the organizer of one of the first strikes, Chris Smalls, and claimed to have violated a company-mandated quarantine. A leaked memo in which an Amazon manager described a PR strategy for smalls later doubted the reasons for his dismissal.
Amazon has become a lifeline for customers seeking protection during the home pandemic, but maintaining costs during the crisis is costly. Warehouse workers are tracking hundreds of COVID-19 cases in Amazon facilities, and activists, politicians, and employees are talking about the company’s response to the pandemic.
Amazon implemented risk billing and expanded its health insurance policies while adding 175,000 new warehouses and delivery agents to meet increasing demand. The company said it has updated 150 occupational safety processes and is spending more than $ 800 million on new safety programs in the first half of this year. The changes include temperature testing of employees in all facilities and the provision of personal protective equipment in accordance with Amazon.
“We are saddened by the tragic impact COVID-19 has had on communities around the world, including some Amazon team members and their family and friends,” said Amazon spokeswoman Lisa Levandowski in a statement. “From the beginning of March to May 1st, we offered our employees unlimited working hours. Since May 1st, we have been offering vacations for those who are most at risk or need to take care of children or family members. ”
The plaintiffs accuse Amazon of “creating a facade of compliance” with security standards while relying on “targeted misunderstandings with workers, sloppy contact tracking and the culture of job fear at JFK8 to ensure that productivity is maintained while reducing costs can be “.
According to the lawsuit, the result is workers who “come to work sick and cannot engage in adequate hygiene, hygiene or social distance in order to stay healthy”.