A group of three Amazon warehouse employees who work out of the company’s New York fulfillment centers have filed a lawsuit alleging the company put them and their families at risk of COVID-19 infection, according to a report from Bloomberg. One worker, Barbara Chandler, says she contracted the virus in March from a State Island warehouse, known as JFK8. Her cousin, who is also her roommate, later died after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, the report states.
The complaint accuses Amazon of fostering a work environment in which employees “were explicitly or implicitly encouraged to continue attending work and prevented from adequately washing their hands or sanitizing their workstations.” It also claims the company, through quotas and disciplinary action, led workers to avoid social distancing and other safety measures to continue hitting metrics and to keep up with surging demand.
The lawsuit also alleges that Amazon has taken a lax approach to contact tracing investigations to try and determine which employees may have come into contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and that the company has punished workers for speaking out about safety concerns.
Earlier this month, a prominent Amazon vice president resigned from the company, accusing it in a scathing public blog post of treating warehouse workers as a “fungible units of pick-and-pack potential” and for ignoring the “the human costs of the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power.”