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Amazon Worker Says Covid-19 Safety Breach Reports Spurred Firing

Oct. 13, 2020, 5:09 PM

Amazon.com Inc. fired a learning ambassador in New Jersey for reporting a shift manager’s repeated shirking of state- and company-mandated social distancing and mask requirements aimed at combatting Covid-19, a federal lawsuit charges.

David Bailey’s duties as an ambassador included strictly enforcing the Covid-19 safety protocols during his shifts, the suit says.

Bailey says he was terminated for “retaliatory reasons” after first being suspended for reporting Kristopher Lauderdale talking to another manager as they stood within a few feet of each other, the Oct. 12 suit says.

Amazon told him he was fired for “threatening” Lauderdale, but that’s a cover for the company’s retaliatory motive, Bailey says in the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Bailey merely uttered an expletive under his breath when Lauderdale reacted to his admonishment about staying six feet part by rolling his eyes. Lauderdale also then moved closer to the other manager, according to the lawsuit.

Lauderdale has been a frequent violator of the safety measures mandated by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and implemented by Amazon further to Murphy’s executive orders, the suit says. The shift manager often hasn’t worn a cloth mask correctly or at all and has regularly been admonished by Bailey and other employees, the complaint says.

Amazon policy warned that workers could be suspended or possibly terminated for failing to comply with the safety restrictions, the suit says. Instead, Bailey was fired for trying to enforce the rules, the suit says.

He says other employees have been similarly disciplined for pointing out Covid-19 infractions at Amazon’s Bellmawr facility.

Amazon has failed to properly investigate the reports by him and others, thereby violating several state, federal, and/or criminal laws, Bailey says.

Causes of Action: Violations of the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act.

Relief: Damages for emotional pay and suffering and lost pay, salary, pay increases, bonuses, insurance, benefits, training, promotions, and seniority; reinstatement or front pay; attorneys’ fees and costs.

Response: Amazon.com didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

Attorneys: Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti PC represents Bailey.

The case is Bailey v. Amazon.com, Inc., D.N.J., No. 1:20-cv-14306, complaint filed 10/12/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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