Amazon no longer needs to be concerned about a legal challenge. Following an appeals court decision today, the case filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James against the corporation for its coronavirus safety standards and alleged retribution against employees was rejected, according to Reuters. It said in its decision that since federal labour law preempts state labour law, the National Labor Relations Board “shall serve as the venue” for the issue and that the matter should be resolved via arbitration. It also cited a related NLRB case involving sacked employee Gerald Bryson, claiming that it had “basically the same” charges of retaliation, and said that there was a possibility of “interference” with the NLRB’s authority.
A complaint filed last year accused Amazon of exposing employees from two Staten Island sites to dangerous working conditions during the flu epidemic. Amazon denied the allegations. According to the lawsuit, Amazon fired former workers Christian Smalls and Derrick Palmer, who are now members of the Amazon Labor Union, in retaliation for their protests of the company’s working conditions. Amazon had filed its own lawsuit against the New York State Attorney General’s office only a few days before, in an attempt to halt the investigation by the state attorney general.
When Amazon’s attempt to transfer the case was dismissed by a federal court last month, it looked that fortune had smiled upon the New York State attorney general. However, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today not only overturned this ruling, but it also rejected charges in a case brought by the state attorney general that Amazon had broken COVID-19 health and safety procedures. The appeals court noted that since New York State’s coronavirus employment guidelines had been removed, the lawsuit’s attempts to compel Amazon to comply with them were “moot,” according to the court.
It is unacceptable that Amazon has failed to offer a safe working environment for New Yorkers during the flu epidemic, putting their health and safety at risk.” In a statement to Engadget, Attorney General James said, “While our office considers the decision and our options moving forward, Attorney General James remains committed to protecting Amazon workers and all workers from unfair treatment.” Morgan Rubin, a spokesperson for the attorney general, said in a statement that Amazon workers, and all workers, are protected from unfair treatment.
A request for comment on the case has been sent to Amazon, we will update this story if we get a response.