Amazon Employee Fired After Organizing Staff Walkout Demanding Coronavirus Protections
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Amazon Employee Fired After Organizing Staff Walkout Demanding Coronavirus Protections

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An Amazon employee who coordinated a walkout of staff members from its Staten Island warehouse was fired Monday after the retail giant said he violated quarantine orders.

According to Forbes, Christian Smalls, a processing assistant at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse, led a walkout demanding the warehouse be cleaned and sanitized after a worker tested positive for the virus. Additionally, workers are pushing for paid sick leave to be an option for all workers.

Amazon confirmed the firing, telling Fox Business Smalls was supposed to be under quarantine.

“Mr. Smalls was found to have had close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and was asked to remain home with pay for 14 days, which is a measure we’re taking at sites around the world,” said Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish. “Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came onsite today, March 30, putting the teams at risk.”

Smalls responded on Twitter saying he had one brief conversation with the colleague while she wore a mask and gloves.

Supermarket and retail chains have been pushing to hire more workers amid the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this month, CVS announced it was looking for 50,000 new workers and Amazon announced it was looking to hire 100,000 new workers.

However, in recent days, workers at Whole Foods, Instacart, and other retail outlets have begun organizing strikes. Workers are pushing for protective equipment, hazard, and sick pay.

Even New York Attorney General Letitia James is getting involved.

“It is disgraceful that Amazon would terminate an employee who bravely stood up to protect himself and his colleagues,” James said in a statement emailed to Business Insider. James added that “at a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling and are deeply concerned about their safety, this action was also immoral and inhumane.”

James added that her office is “considering all legal options” and she has called on the National Labor Relations Board to open an investigation into the incident.

“In New York, the right to organize is codified into law, and any retaliatory action by management related thereto is strictly prohibited,” James said.

 


CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Christian Smalls is an assistant manager at the Amazon Warehouse. He is not a manager, but a processing assistant.

 

 

 


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