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Amazon workers interviewed as part of New York Attorney General's probe into company's coronavirus response

The New York Attorney General Letitia James' office has interviewed workers from several New York City Amazon facilities as part of a probe into...

Posted: Jun 15, 2020 3:56 AM

The New York Attorney General Letitia James' office has interviewed workers from several New York City Amazon facilities as part of a probe into the company's response to coronavirus, James' office told CNN.

Some Amazon warehouse workers have claimed the company did not do enough to safeguard them from the virus. The Attorney General's office talked to employees about allegations concerning personal protective equipment and other safeguards related to Covid-19, as well as allegations of retaliation in the firing of an Amazon employee based out of Staten Island, the office said.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the Attorney General's investigation.

"We are saddened by the tragic impact Covid-19 has had on communities across the globe, including on some Amazon team members and their family and friends," the spokesperson said in a statement. "From early March to May 1, we offered our employees unlimited time away from work, and since May 1 we have offered leave for those most vulnerable or who need to care for children or family members."

The company says it has taken a number of other steps to address coronavirus such as providing temperature checks, masks, gloves, testing and extended pay and benefits to employees. The company is also enhancing the sanitizing process at facilities.

In March, Amazon terminated Christian Smalls, an employee based in the company's Staten Island, New York, warehouse after he participated in a worker walkout protesting the company's response to coronavirus, CNN reported. In a statement at the time, Amazon said Smalls was supposed to be under quarantine.

More recently, Amazon warehouses have faced a growing tide of coronavirus cases, according to the company and local media reports.

One person who works in Amazon's Staten Island, New York, fulfillment center tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the online retail giant told CNN Business in March. Amazon added at the time that the person, who was last at work physically on March 11, is in quarantine and recovering.

Amazon temporarily closed some sites, such as the Queens location, but largely refrained from mass closures.

Earlier this month, three Amazon workers from its JFK8 warehouse filed a lawsuit against the company alleging the company erected "a facade of compliance" to meet public health guidelines while simultaneously pressuring employees to report to work under unsafe conditions. The lawsuit claims that a lack of Covid-19 protections at its Staten Island facility not only put workers at risk, but also their families.

Amazon, in response to the suit, repeated that it took a variety of steps to prevent the spread of the virus, including making more than 150 "process changes" to its operations to enhance safety and investing billions of dollars into coronavirus-related initiatives.

-- CNN's Brian Fung and Sara Ashley O'Brien contributed to this report.

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