Was it Wrong for Amazon to Fire a Worker Who Protested Unsafe Working Conditions?

The Guardian reported on March 31, 2020, that a New York worker for Amazon was fired for protesting unsafe COVID-19 working conditions. Strikers in Staten Island had demanded that Amazon close its JFK8 warehouse for cleaning – after there were reports that several employees had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The employee, Chris Smalls, who was fired was an assistant manager at the international online sales company. He’d been working at the company for five years. The Mayor of New York ordered an investigation into the firing.

In addition to cleaning the warehouse, the workers were demanding hazard pay and more protective gear.

Amazon did confirm that two workers at the warehouse had tested positive and were being quarantined. The protesting workers said there were more than two workers who tested positive. Amazon claims that Mr. Smalls was asked to self-quarantine for 14 days due to exposure to a diagnosed worker – but they said Smalls didn’t.

Smalls said he wasn’t asked to stay home until more than 14 days after the infected co-worker last reported to work – so that there was no need to quarantine. He added that no other workers were asked to quarantine themselves.

Smalls is considering filing a legal claim because he claims he was fired because he exercised his right to complain about unsafe working conditions. He’s also asking the National Labor Relations Board to investigate. Other workers said the firing was meant to intimidate workers.

Amazon is disputing the points raised by the protestors “including deep cleaning and procuring supplies.”

At the California Law Offices of Stephen A. Danz and Associates, we understand how concerned employees are about a range of COVID-19 issues including the need to work where their life isn’t in immediate danger. To discuss your current employee rights including a wrongful termination, call us at 877-789-9707 or use our online contact form to make an appointment. Se habla espanol.