The Court of Appeal dismisses the lawsuit against Amazon

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York appeals court has dismissed New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against Amazon over its coronavirus safety protocols and a former employee who successfully led the effort union organization in Staten Island.

In addition to potentially exposing workers to the virus at two Amazon facilities in New York, the lawsuit filed by James last year alleged that Amazon unlawfully retaliated against workers who spoke out about poor safety conditions. in its warehouses. Among them are Chris Smalls, the laid-off Amazon worker who now heads the Amazon Labor Union, and Derrick Palmer, the group’s organizing vice president.

The appeals court said in its decision Tuesday that federal labor law prevails over state labor law and that the National Labor Relations Board “should serve as a forum” for disputes arising from protected behavior or prohibited by federal labor law, not by the states.

He also said lawsuit efforts to compel the retailer to comply with New York City’s COVID-19 workplace guidelines were dismissed as moot because the restriction in effect at the time had since been lifted.

The court also pointed to a separate NLRB case involving another terminated employee, Gerald Bryson. He said this case involves “essentially the same allegations of retaliation, and the possibility of inconsistent rulings on the same issue poses an ‘obvious and substantial’ ‘risk of interference'” with the jurisdiction of the NLRB.

Palmer, who received a final written warning early in the pandemic, is still employed at Amazon.

The court’s decision is a victory for Amazon, which had sought to have the case dismissed, but its motion to dismiss was denied by a lower court last year.

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

The Seattle-based online retailer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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