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Dismissed Amazon workers register discrimination over pandemic conditions



(Reuters) – A former Amazon.com Inc. worker who protested against the conditions in his New York City-compliant center sued the retailer on Thursday, accusing it of discrimination for firing him and for putting blacks and Hispanics workers at increased risk of contract. COVID-19.

In a proposed class action lawsuit filed in Brooklyn federal court, Christian Smalls argued that Amazon did not provide the necessary protective equipment to its "predominant minority" force and subjected them to worse working conditions than the predominantly white executives. [19659002] Referring to a leaked memo from Amazon's General Council to CEO Jeff Bezos, Smalls also said that Amazon fired him after concluding that he, as a black man, was a "weak spokesman" for workers.

He also said that Amazon was trying to drum up public support by making him the "face" of workers criticizing its pandemic response.

The complaint concerns unspecified injuries to black and Hispanic workers at the Staten Island facility.

Amazon fi red Mr. Smalls on March 30 and said he joined a protest at the Staten Island facility despite being on paid quarantine, after having had close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-1

9.

It fired at least three other workers critical of its April pandemic response, citing various alleged workplace violations.

New York Justice Minister Letitia James wrote to Amazon later in April, expressing "serious concern" that she was trying to silence critics about its health and safety measures.

In a statement on Thursday, an Amazon spokeswoman said that the company's focus on customers "is central to our work on diversity and inclusion," and that Mr. Smalls were fired for endangering the health and safety of others.

The Seattle-based company has benefited from the pandemic as consumers shop online more often.

Amazon has said it expects to invest $ 10 billion this year in COVID-19 initiatives to deliver products and keep employees safe, including by distributing masks. to workers and uses disinfectants and temperature controls worldwide.

On October 1, Amazon said that 19,816 of its 1.37 million frontline workers in the United States between March 1 and September 19 had tested positive or assumed to be positive for coronavirus. [19659002] It was stated that it was 42% less than if the degree of infection had reflected the proportion for the general population.

Last week, a federal judge in Brooklyn dismissed a separate lawsuit, accusing Amazon of creating a general nuisance at the Staten Island facility.

The case is Smalls v. Amazon Inc. U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 20-05492.

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