Sen. Bernie Sanders is expressing support for an Amazon employee who was fired Monday for breaking a coronavirus quarantine while trying to organize a mass walk-out.
Amazon warehouse employee Chris Smalls was fired for violating a quarantine after he came into contact with a co-worker who tested positive for the virus, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Smalls, who tried to orchestrate a walk-out at a New York warehouse, told ABC News on Tuesday afternoon that he was sent home Saturday on quarantine.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sanders are tossing their lot in with Smalls after the longtime Amazon employee suggested the company was retaliating against him for organizing the walkout, which resulted in only 15 workers walking out, according to a statement Tuesday from Amazon spokeswoman Lisa Levandowski.
“Mr. Smalls received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk,” Amazon said in a press statement. Dave Clark, Amazon’s Senior Vice President of operations, expressed a similar sentiment in a tweet Tuesday targeting Sanders.
“Smalls purposely violated social distancing rules multiple times and on 3/28 was put on Paid 14-days of quarantine due to COVID exposure,” Clark told his followers. Still, Sanders, de Blasio, and New York Attorney General Letitia James want the matter investigated as they believe Amazon’s actions could indeed be retaliatory.
Coronavirus, or COVID-19, originated in China and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people worldwide
“It’s disgraceful that Amazon, which is owned by the richest man in the world, is not only failing to protect its workers but has now fired a worker for protesting dangerous conditions,” Sanders, a Vermont Democrat, told his Twitter followers Tuesday night. “I stand with Chris and all Amazon workers fighting for their safety.”
It’s disgraceful that Amazon, which is owned by the richest man in the world, is not only failing to protect its workers but has now fired a worker for protesting dangerous conditions. I stand with Chris and all Amazon workers fighting for their safety. https://t.co/CRm750EvK3
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 31, 2020
De Blasio, for his part, ordered New York City’s Commission on Human Rights to launch an investigation to determine if Smalls was fired for raising health concerns. (RELATED: NY’s Attorney General Calls For Investigation After Amazon Fires Employee For Breaking Quarantine)
“If so, that would be a violation of our city human rights law and we would act on it immediately,” the Democratic mayor said at a press conference Tuesday. “I should also note the sheriff’s office did an inspection of the facility to ensure that social distancing is being observed and they will continue to inspect as needed.”
James, a Democrat, also expressed anger over how she believes Smalls was treated. She 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.”
Smalls’s complaints about conditions at the warehouse came after reports in 2019 suggested the brutal working conditions at the company leave some workers to reach out for help before ultimately seeking relief through suicide. Emergency workers were summoned to Amazon warehouses nearly 200 times between 2013 and 2018, the Daily Beast reported in 2019, citing police records.
Neither Sanders nor de Blasio responded to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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