Chris Smalls, an
“Taking action cost me my job,” Smalls said Monday in a Bloomberg TV
A group of workers at the Staten Island fulfillment center walked off the job Monday to demand Amazon close the facility for extended cleaning, the latest in a wave of
In a statement Monday night, New York State Attorney General
Amazon confirmed it fired Smalls, saying he violated safety regulations, including failing to abide by a 14-day quarantine required after being exposed to an employee with a confirmed case of Covid-19.
“Mr. Smalls received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk,” Amazon said in a statement. Smalls “was asked to remain home with pay for 14 days, which is a measure we’re taking at sites around the world. Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came on site today, March 30, further putting the teams at risk.”
Smalls called the company’s claim “ridiculous” and said he was being retaliated against for his activism. Federal law protects the right of employees to engage in collective action, including strikes, to protest working conditions.
“I’m still going to continue to fight for those people inside of that building,” he said.
Amazon also disputed the number of workers involved in the protest, saying it was 15 of more than 5,000 employees at the Staten Island site.
“Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable,” the company said.
(Updates with mayor’s comment in fourth paragraph)
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