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Fired Worker Sues Amazon Over Poor Pandemic Working Conditions

Christian Smalls, a former assistant manager at Amazon warehouse, filed a class-action lawsuit against the company on Thursday.

Small who was fired after organizing a protest outside his workplace, filed the class action lawsuit against the tech giant, Amazon, alleging thousands of minority line workers were put at risk and faced unequal protections from Covid-19 compared to white managers.

The suit filed in US district court in the Eastern District of New York, calls for compensation for Small and more protective measures for Amazon workers who continue to handle packages in the company’s facilities amid a worsening health crisis.

He alleged that the company failed to provide protective gear to its minority workforce during the first wave of the pandemic, but provides large protection for its white employees.

Small also accused the company of violating federal civil right laws by firing him.

At the time of his firing on Thursday, Small had been put under quarantine by the company. Amazon said Christian violated the terms of that quarantine by showing up to the JFK8 facility for the protest thereby putting the health and safety of others at risk and violating the terms of his employment.

“Mr. Small received multiple warnings for violating social distance guidelines. He was also found to have had a close contact with a diagnosed associate who had been confirmed to have the coronavirus and was asked to remain home with pay for 14 days. Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came outside further putting the teams at risk”.

In October, Amazon confirmed that nearly 20,000 of its workers had tested positive or were presumed positive for the coronavirus. Small said in a press conference on Thursday, that white managers were being quarantined one by one but line workers were told that the managers were going on vacation.

He added that at the time, the tech company had not implemented any of the safety measure it currently practices, the polices began only after he was fired.

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