NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — An appeals court in New York on Tuesday dismissed state Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit against Amazon over its coronavirus protection protocols and the firing of an employee who spearheaded a successful unionization effort at Amazon. Staten Island.
The lawsuit filed last year says that aside from potentially exposing workers to the virus at two of its facilities, Amazon retaliated unlawfully against workers who complained about poor safety conditions at its warehouses. They included Chris Smalls, the laid-off employee who now heads the Amazon Labor Union; and Derrick Palmer, group vice president.
On Tuesday, the appeals court said in its ruling that federal law superseded state labor law and that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), not the states, “should serve as the forum” for disputes arising from protected conduct. or prohibited by federal labor law.
He further said that the lawsuit’s efforts to require the retail giant to comply with New York’s pandemic labor guidelines were dismissed as irrelevant because the restriction in place at the time has since been lifted.
The court pointed to a separate case in the NLRB about another fired employee, Gerald Bryson. He said that case encompasses “essentially the same retaliation allegations and that the possibility of inconsistent rulings on the same issue poses an obvious and substantial risk of interference with the board’s jurisdiction.
Palmer, who received a final written warning in the early days of the pandemic, remains employed by Amazon.
The court’s ruling is a victory for Amazon, which sought to have the case dismissed. Neither the company nor James’ office immediately responded to requests for comment.