New York AG's lawsuit again Amazon dismissed by appeals court

·Contributing Writer
·2-min read
Brendan McDermid / reuters

Amazon has one less legal challenge to worry about. An appeals court today dismissed a lawsuit by New York State Attorney General Letitia James against the company for its coronavirus safety protocols and alleged retaliation against workers, reported Reuters. In its ruling, the court said that since federal labor law preempts state labor law, National Labor Relations Board “should serve as the forum” for the dispute. It also pointed to a separate NLRB case over fired employee Gerald Bryson and said it contained “essentially the same” allegations of retaliation, and argued there was a risk of “interference” over the NLRB’s jurisdiction.

The lawsuit — filed last year — accused Amazon of subjecting workers from two Staten Island facilities to unsafe conditions during the pandemic. It also alleged that Amazon retaliated against former employees Christian Smalls and Derrick Palmer — now of the Amazon Labor Union — by firing them after they protested the company’s working conditions. Just a few days earlier, Amazon filed its own lawsuit against the New York State attorney general’s office in an effort to stop the investigation.

Last month, it appeared that luck was on the NY State attorney general’s side when a federal judge denied Amazon’s bid to transfer the lawsuit. But the New York Court of Appeals today not only reversed this decision, it dismissed claims in the state attorney general’s lawsuit that Amazon violated COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The appeals court stated that since New York State’s coronavirus workplace protocols have since been lifted, the lawsuit's efforts to get Amazon to comply with them were “moot.”

“Throughout the pandemic, Amazon has failed to provide a safe working environment for New Yorkers, putting their health and safety at risk. As our office reviews the decision and our options moving forward, Attorney General James remains committed to protecting Amazon workers, and all workers, from unfair treatment,” wrote Morgan Rubin, a spokesperson for the attorney general, in a statement to Engadget.

Engadget has reached out to Amazon for comment on the lawsuit and will update if we hear back.

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