New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced that she has initiated legal proceedings against Amazon over “blatant disregard for health and safety requirements” by the US online distribution giant during the Covid pandemic -19, endangering the lives of workers and the public.
The official accused Amazon of conducting poor contact tracing and poor cleaning at two of its distribution facilities in New York City, where a company employee died after contracting the coronavirus.
The Staten Island distribution facility where the employee died employs around 5,000 workers, most of whom were deemed essential during the pandemic, according to local media.
The lawsuit started by the New York prosecutor comes following a lawsuit initiated by Amazon in federal court in Brooklyn, to prevent Letitia James from filing a complaint against the distribution giant.
Indeed, Amazon argues that federal labor and safety laws take precedence over New York City laws, meaning the prosecutor would not have the legal authority to sue the company for workplace safety violations.
According to the same source, Amazon has received written notifications from at least 250 employees at its Staten Island facility, diagnosed or tested positive for Covid-19, of whom more than 90 of them have worked at the facility in the seven days following their notifications.
The complaint contends that in more than 80 of these cases, “Amazon did not shut down any part” of the Staten Island facility, even after receiving notification from employees about their positive coronavirus tests.
“Amazon has taken shortcuts to comply with the special requirements that would most undermine its sales volume and productivity rates, thus ensuring outsized profits at an unprecedented rate of growth for the company and its shareholders,” argued the New York prosecutor in her complaint.
The online sales giant recently reported a 44% increase in net sales, reaching a record high of $ 125.6 billion in the fourth quarter of last year.
Amazon also reported total net revenue of $ 386.1 billion in 2020, up sharply from the $ 280.5 billion reported by the company in 2019.