Advocacy update

Justice Initiative Applauds Worker Suit against Amazon for COVID-19 Labor Conditions

Date
June 03, 2020
Contact
Brooke Havlik
media@opensocietyfoundations.org
+1-646-402-9513

Today, workers and family members of workers at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York filed a lawsuit against the company to force changes to the company’s on-the-job and leave policies, which they argue put them at serious risk of COVID-19 exposure. The JFK8 facility has been the site of multiple organized walkouts by staff over working conditions. In April, Amazon fired a worker at the facility in retaliation.

Open Society Justice Initiative supports the workers’ complaint, which asks for a number of changes to Amazon’s labor policy, including:

  • transparent leave policy that encourages workers to stay home when dictated by state or federal public health guidance, without fear of losing their jobs;
  • prompt payment of quarantine leave in accordance with New York’s Paid Family Leave law;
  • an increase to the allowance for “Time Off Task” so that people can wash their hands and/or clean their work stations;
  • thorough disinfection of the facility after a worker tests positive; and 
  • adherence to CDC guidance for contact tracing when one of its workers tests positive for the virus.

In response to the lawsuit, Open Society Justice Initiative’s executive director, James A. Goldston, has issued the following statement, “Companies profiting off of the current stay-at-home orders have a responsibility to protect public health and welfare, especially for their workers. No one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck. The Open Society Justice Initiative applauds workers who are standing up for their rights, and for the health and safety of all New Yorkers.”

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are represented by Make the Road New York, Public Justice, Towards Justice, and the Terrell Marshall Law Group.

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