An Amazon employee said he was fired Monday for organizing a walk-out, but the company said the man refused to comply with a quarantine after coming into contact with a colleague who has coronavirus.
Roughly 15 employees participated in the walkout at a warehouse in New York, Amazon spokeswoman Lisa Levandowski said in an emailed statement. The employee who helped organize the demonstration was fired at the end of the day, according to The Washington Post.
A manager at the warehouse told Chris Smalls he was fired for violating a quarantine after he came into contact with a co-worker who tested positive for the virus, Smalls told WaPo. Smalls, a process assistant with the company, said Amazon never warned him about the quarantine beforehand.
“They are trying to silence me for speaking up on behalf of the people,” Smalls said. “It’s retaliation.” Smith and other employees at the facility walked out in protest of what they believe is the tech giant’s inability to protect their health and well being as Amazon ratchets up orders.
Amazon wants to hire another 100,000 warehouse employees to keep up with demand.
Levandowski dismisses Small’s characterization of the events leading up to his termination. “This is unacceptable and we have terminated his employment as a result of these multiple safety issues,” she said, referring to Small’s decision to break the alleged quarantine.
COVID-19 originated in China and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people worldwide. (RELATED: Amazon Takes An Extraordinary Step To Stop Microsoft From Building Out Pentagon’s JEDI Deal)
New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said in a tweet Monday that the National Labor Relations Board should investigate Smith’s firing, adding that Amazon’s move is “disgraceful.” James said she is “considering all legal options.”
The walk-out came as Americans increasingly see themselves in a tough spot amid calls for social distancing. They are relying more and more on Amazon and other e-commerce giants for their grocery supplies and other ordinance as they hunker down in their homes to avoid spreading the virus.
Amazon and James have not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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