New York City's mayor has ordered a human rights probe into Amazon's firing of a warehouse worker who led a strike against the company over coronavirus safety concerns

bill deblasio

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered an investigation into Amazon's firing of a warehouse worker the same day he participated in a strike against the company, Reuters reported Tuesday.
  • Amazon fired the employee, Chris Smalls, Monday evening after he had helped organize a walkout earlier in the day to protest the company's coronavirus response.
  • Smalls said he was fired in retaliation for his activism and that "Amazon would rather sweep a problem under the rug than act to keep workers and working communities safe," according to a statement sent to Business Insider.
  • Amazon has denied the claim and said it fired Smalls for violating a quarantine order it issued after Smalls came into contact with a co-worker who tested positive for COVID-19, the company told Business Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that he has ordered the city's human rights commissioner to investigate Amazon's firing of a warehouse worker who participated in a protest against the company, according to Reuters.

Amazon fired Chris Smalls, an assistant manager at the company's Staten Island, New York, facility on Monday evening after he helped organize a strike earlier in the day to protest Amazon's health and safety policies following a colleague testing positive for coronavirus.Advertisement

Smalls claimed he was fired in retaliation for his involvement in the protest, telling Business Insider in a statement: "Amazon would rather sweep a problem under the rug than act to keep workers and working communities safe."

Amazon has denied Smalls' accusations, saying it fired him for repeatedly "violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk" after it asked him to stay home on paid sick leave after he came into "close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of COVID-19," the company told Business Insider in a statement Monday.

New York Attorney General Letitia James spoke out against Smalls' termination Monday evening as well, calling Amazon's decision "disgraceful," and telling Business Insider that her office is "considering all legal options" and has called on the National Labor Relations Board to open its own investigation.
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Amazon has faced pushback from workers as well as regulators who say it hasn't done enough to protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus, with workers in Italy protesting over similar issues last week. Amazon has confirmed COVID-19 in at least 11 of its warehouses.

Amazon has implemented additional cleaning and social distancing measures, the spokesperson told Business Insider. However, critics have argued that the measures haven't gone far enough as Amazon tries to balance the safety of workers with increased demand for its services.Exclusive FREE Report: 30 Big Tech Predictions for 2020 by Business Insider IntelligenceAdvertisement

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