Letitia James’ worker safety lawsuit vs. Amazon dismissed

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A New York state appeals court on Tuesday dismissed state Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit accusing Amazon of failing to adequately protect thousands of workers at two New York City facilities against COVID-19.

The Appellate Division in Manhattan said federal law preempted James’ claims that Amazon violated state labor law by retaliating against workers who protested against unsafe conditions.

It also said James’ effort to require Amazon to comply with state COVID-19 workplace guidelines was moot, because the state has withdrawn the guidance that she sought to enforce.

Neither the attorney general’s office nor Amazon immediately responded to requests for comment.

James had sued Amazon in February 2021 over its alleged failure to provide adequate health and safety protections to workers at its JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island and DBK1 distribution center in Queens, both in New York City.

A state trial judge rejected Amazon’s bid to dismiss the case in October.

But the appeals court said protests against unsafe working conditions “relate to the workers’ participation in concerted activities for the purpose of … mutual aid or protection,” and were protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

It also said the ruling could post a “substantial risk of interference” with the National Labor Relations Board, which is considering essentially the same allegations of retaliation.

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