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caption: The interior of an Amazon fulfillment center is shown on Friday, November 3, 2017, in Kent.
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The interior of an Amazon fulfillment center is shown on Friday, November 3, 2017, in Kent.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Amazon sued by warehouse workers in New York

Amazon is fighting its first lawsuit filed by American warehouse workers.

Workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, say the company's practices amount to a public health risk.

The workers are from JFK8, Amazon's vast Staten Island warehouse, which was the scene of a protest against pandemic work conditions earlier this year.

In the lawsuit, workers say Amazon's policies has put pressure on them to work when sick. Forty-four workers at the warehouse have tested positive for Covid-19, including one who died, and have brought the disease home to their families — also resulting in fatalities, according the the lawsuit.

The suit also says many workers commute on crowded public buses, meaning they could pose a health risk to the community at large.

At JFK8, thousands of people work 10 and 11 hour shifts with their productivity closely monitored. Workers says they cannot afford the time it would take to walk several minutes to a bathroom to wash their hands or to disinfect their work stations.

The workers want Amazon to provide adequate paid time off pay so employees who may need to quarantine don't they feel pressured to work when sick.

The company, however, says it’s doing all of that and more.

"From early March to May 1, we offered our employees unlimited time away from work, and since May 1 we have offered leave for those most vulnerable or who need to care for children or family members," Amazon said in a statement. "This includes two weeks paid leave for any Covid diagnosis or quarantine."

A New York district court judge will review the matter.