A former Amazon worker has filed a class-action lawsuit against the e-commerce company over allegations of mistreatment of workers during the pandemic.
The worker, who was fired from Amazon earlier this year, claimed the company had placed thousands of its employees at risk.
The lawsuit, filed by former Amazon employee Christian Smalls, alleges that the company violated federal civil rights laws. In the suit filed with the U.S. district court in the Eastern District of New York, Smalls is seeking compensation and a court order to force Amazon to implement better protective measures for its workers.
Smalls said he was fired by the company after he organized a protest outside his workplace in Staten Island. He claims that the termination of his employment was unjust and a violation of civil rights laws.
Smalls, who started to work for Amazon in 2015, held a midlevel management position. Smalls said he had approached his supervisor to ask for a quarantine order after a colleague tested positive for the virus. His request was denied.
Amazon said Smalls was fired because he violated a quarantine order placed on him by the company when he joined the protest outside its factory.
"We terminated Smalls for putting the health and safety of others at risk and violations of the terms of his employment," Amazon said.
The legal action is the latest against the company's allegedly lax health and safety practices during the pandemic. The company has been accused of forcing workers to continue shifts despite the worsening health crisis.
Amazon argues it placed adequate safety measures and precautions to protect its workforce. It said that hand sanitizer usage, mandatory temperature checks, and social distancing measures had been strictly enforced. Despite its efforts, complaints against the company have continued to emerge.
Last month, Amazon confirmed that close to 20,000 of its workforce had tested positive for the coronavirus. The report highlighted the dramatic toll on front-line workers and their plight to serve the growing demand for the rapid delivery of daily necessities during the height of the pandemic.