Christian Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse employee, submitted a claim against the business today alleging Amazon failed to offer individual protective equipment to Black and Latinx workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The class-action match alleges Amazon failed to properly protect its warehouse workers and violated components of New York City’s human rights law, as well as federal and state laws.
“I was a faithful employee and offered my all to Amazon up until I was unceremoniously terminated and tossed aside like yesterday’s trash because I insisted that Amazon secure its devoted workers from COVID-19,” Smalls stated in a statement. “I just wanted Amazon to supply basic protective equipment to the workers and sanitize the office.”
Today I filed a Class Action lawsuit in the state of NY on behalf of all @Amazon employees and all essential workers that were unprotected all throughout the world during this pandemic. as I said in the starting it’s not Amazon vs Chris Smalls it’s Amazon vs the People @JeffBezos
— Christian Smalls (@Shut_downAmazon) November 12, 2020
Amazon did not specifically talk about the claim however said it stands in solidarity with Black workers, consumers, and its partners.
“Amazon’s mission is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company, and this objective is main to our work in diversity and addition,” Amazon representative Lisa Levandowski told TechCrunch. “Diverse teams assist us to believe bigger, and differently, about the product or services that we develop for our customers and the everyday nature of our workplace –– this is enhanced within our 14 Management Concepts, which advise team members to look for a varied point of views, learn and wonder, and continuously make others’ trust.”
The suit has assistance from Rev. Jesse Jackson, who said he stands in uniformity with Smalls and other Amazon storage facility workers.
“COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black and Brown communities on a lot of levels, from storage facilities to jailhouses,” Rev. Jackson stated in a statement. “It’s an invisible opponent that is eliminating our communities. Chris’ case is a traditional example of how corporate greed and insensitivity can actually expose communities to unknown and unneeded dangers.”
Smalls was fired from Amazon in March after organizing a walkout at one of the company’s satisfaction centers in Staten Island. As an outcome, New York city’s attorney general of the United States is investigating if Amazon breached federal worker safety laws and New york city state’s whistleblower protection laws by firing Smalls.
Smalls’ termination helped galvanize other storage facility employees who later formed a worldwide organization to require change inside Amazon’s storage facilities. Organizers pointed to worker retaliation as one of the driving factors for the formation of Amazon Workers International. Meanwhile, Amazon executives reportedly talked about discrediting Smalls and making him the face of the arranging movement.
An Amazon spokesperson previously told TechCrunch the company did not fire Smalls for organizing a protest. Instead, Amazon stated it fired him for “putting the health and security of others at threat and offenses of his regards to employment.”
“Mr. Smalls received multiple warnings for breaking social distancing guidelines,” the spokesperson said. “He was also found to have had close contact with a diagnosed partner with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and was asked to remain house with spend for 14-days, which is a step we’re taking at sites worldwide. Regardless of that direction to remain house with pay, he came onsite, additional putting the teams at threat.”