Workers claim lax safety policies put their families at risk
Lawsuit focuses on Staten Island, N.Y., distribution center
A group of Amazon.com Inc. warehouse employees sued the online retail giant, claiming its working conditions put not only them at risk of contracting the coronavirus but also their family members, including one who died.
Barbara Chandler, one of three workers who filed a lawsuit Wednesday in New York, claims she contracted the virus in March at Amazon’s Staten Island distribution center, where employees “were explicitly or implicitly encouraged to continue attending work and prevented from adequately washing their hands or sanitizing their workstations.” Within a month, Chandler’s cousin, whom she lived with, died after experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, the lawsuit says.
The suggestion that working conditions at the facility contributed to a specific third-party death distinguishes Wednesday’s lawsuit from other coronavirus-related complaints filed against Amazon in recent months.
But the plaintiffs, who accuse Amazon of violating public nuisance and employee safety laws by providing workers misinformation and setting “oppressive and dangerous” hourly quotas and discipline policies, are not seeking damages for illness or death. The lawsuit, which was jointly filed with advocacy groups including Towards Justice, Public Justice and Make the Road New York, is instead mainly asking for an injunction requiring the company to adhere to public health guidance.