Amazon sues New York AG to prevent legal action against it

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Feb. 13 (UPI) — Amazon filed a federal lawsuit Friday against New York Attorney General Letitia James to head off legal action over the company’s handling of coronavirus conditions at its Staten Island warehouse last year.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York says the attorney general does not have the authority to demand legal remedies against Amazon, rather it is the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The filing centers around former Amazon worker Chris Smalls, who organized a walkout of the Staten Island warehouse last March over not having protective gear connected with the virus and declining to tell employees that several fellow workers had tested positive.

Amazon eventually fired Smalls for violating social distancing guidelines. The company claimed the firing was not because he organized the protest. Smalls has filed a lawsuit against Amazon over the firing.

The e-commerce giant said James, who called on the National Labor Relations Board to investigate the Smalls incident, would violate federal and state law if she intervened in the case. James had publicly called Smalls’ firing “disgraceful.”

At the time of the walkout, attorneys general of 14 states and the District of Columbia had asked both Amazon and Whole Foods to broaden their sick-leave policies due to the ongoing threat of the pandemic.

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