By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday ruled against Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ 🙂 as the firm defended against the New York Attorney General’s law Letitia James declared it to prioritize benefits over workers’ safety during the COVID-19 pandemic in two New York City warehouses.
US District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan accepted James’s request to resubmit her case to a New York state court, and rejected Amazon’s proposal to refer it to Brooklyn federal court, where The online retailer sued James to prevent her from suing.
James accused Amazon of ignoring its obligation to take reasonable steps to protect workers from the coronavirus at the product fulfillment center in Staten Island and the Queens distribution center, and retaliated against the workers. people have complained.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment. Rakoff said he would explain the reason behind the order of his two paragraphs.
“Amazon forced its employees to work in unsafe conditions during this pandemic,” James said, welcoming the transfer of her case back to state court, “where it belongs”.
While the ruling did not settle the dispute, it was a setback for Seattle-based Amazon, which accuses James of being beyond her jurisdiction and arguing that federal law, not New’s. York should make safety adjustments at work.
Amazon says both lawsuits belong to the Brooklyn court because Queens and Staten Island are in that jurisdiction and suing in different courts is wasteful.
James said Amazon has “cut corners” in protecting workers because doing more could threaten productivity, sales volume, and profitability.
She says she has the authority to enforce New York state law “to promote sound business behavior and ensure that current and future Amazon employees have a safe and honest workplace.”
Her lawsuit is aimed at improving worker protections and compensation for two Amazon workers accused of facing retaliation.
One man, Christian Smalls, was fired a year ago on purpose for violating the quarantine regime paid for by leading a protest about the conditions at the Staten Island warehouse.
James sued Amazon on February 16, four days after Amazon sued her. Amazon then referred James’s lawsuit to federal court.
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