A New York appeals court on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against Amazon filed by state Attorney General Letitia James.
The lawsuit was filed in February of last year and accused the e-commerce giant of failing to reasonably protect workers against COVID-19 at two New York City facilities. The suit also said the company illegally retaliated against workers who spoke up about poor working conditions.
“Throughout the pandemic, Amazon has failed to provide a safe working environment for New Yorkers, putting their health and safety at risk,” Morgan Rubin, a spokesperson for James’ office, said in a statement on Tuesday. “As our office reviews the decision and our options moving forward, Attorney General James remains committed to protecting Amazon workers, and all workers, from unfair treatment.”
The complaint followed an investigation by the attorney general that found Amazon to be disregarding health and safety requirements at JFK8, a fulfillment center on Staten Island, and DBK1, a distribution center in Queens. It also found that the company unlawfully fired and disciplined workers who reported concerns about safety, including Christian Smalls, who now heads the Amazon Labor Union, and Derrick Palmer, the group’s vice president of organizing.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The appellate court ruling concluded federal labor law took precedence over state labor law, and therefore the National Labor Relations Board “should serve as the forum” for disputes regarding conduct protected or prohibited by federal law, and not state law, reports said.
The court also dismissed the claim that Amazon was not complying with the state’s COVID-19 workplace safety guidelines, saying that pandemic restrictions have since been lifted.