Decide fingers Amazon a setback in New York lawsuit over COVID-19 shortfalls By Reuters

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© Reuters. An Amazon employee delivers packages

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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A federal decide on Friday dominated in opposition to Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:) as the corporate defends in opposition to New York Legal professional Basic Letitia James’ lawsuit claiming it prioritized revenue over employee security through the COVID-19 pandemic at two New York Metropolis warehouses.

U.S. District Decide Jed Rakoff in Manhattan granted James’ request to return her lawsuit to a New York state court docket, and rejected Amazon’s bid to maneuver it to Brooklyn federal court docket, the place the net retailer had sued James to cease her from suing.

James accused Amazon of ignoring its obligation to take cheap steps to guard staff from the coronavirus at a Staten Island achievement heart and a Queens distribution heart, and retaliating in opposition to staff who complained.

An Amazon spokeswoman declined to remark. Rakoff mentioned he’ll clarify the reasoning behind his two-paragraph order later.

“Amazon has compelled its staff to work in unsafe situations all through this pandemic,” James mentioned in welcoming her lawsuit’s transfer again to state court docket, “the place it belongs.”

Whereas the ruling didn’t tackle the dispute’s deserves, it’s a setback for Seattle-based Amazon, which accused James of overstepping her authority and mentioned federal legal guidelines quite than New York’s ought to govern office security.

Amazon mentioned each lawsuits belonged within the Brooklyn court docket as a result of Queens and Staten Island are in that jurisdiction, and suing in several courts was wasteful.

James mentioned Amazon had “minimize corners” in defending staff as a result of doing extra might threaten productiveness, gross sales quantity and profitability.

She mentioned she had authority to implement New York state legislation “to advertise correct enterprise conduct and be sure that present and future Amazon staff have a protected and sincere office.”

Her lawsuit seeks improved employee protections, and damages for 2 Amazon staff who allegedly confronted retaliation.

One, Christian Smalls, was fired one 12 months in the past, purportedly for violating a paid quarantine when main a protest over situations on the Staten Island warehouse.

James sued Amazon on Feb. 16, 4 days after Amazon sued her. Amazon then moved James’ lawsuit to federal court docket.

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