In an unusual move, Amazon has filed a lawsuit against New York attorney general Letitia James in a bid to stop her from regulating the company’s workplace safety response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the lawsuit filed on Friday, Amazon has argued that the regulation of its response to the pandemic is already covered by federal law, CNBC reported.
The lawsuit by Amazon is an attempt to preempt what it says is a threat by James to sue the company “if it does not immediately agree to a list of demands, many of which have no connection to health and safety and have no factual or legal basis.”
In response to the lawsuit, the New York Attorney said that she will “not be intimidated by anyone.”
“Throughout this pandemic, Amazon employees have been forced to work in unsafe conditions, all while the company and its CEO made billions off of their backs. This action by Amazon is nothing more than a sad attempt to distract from the facts and shirk accountability for its failures to protect hardworking employees from a deadly virus,” James said in a statement.
“Let me be clear: We will not be intimidated by anyone, especially corporate bullies that put profits over the health and safety of working people. We remain undeterred in our efforts to protect workers from exploitation and will continue to review all of our legal options.”
Amazon faced severe criticism from current and former employees who alleged that early in the pandemic the company did not put enough safety measures to protect the employees from contracting COVID-19.
In March, a group of workers at Staten Island, New York warehouse, led by Chris Smalls protested against Amazon after the company did not pay much heed to their demand for closing the facility for cleaning after a worker at the site tested positive.
Amazon later fired Smalls for allegedly breaking pandemic rules.
The move attracted more criticism from workers, lawmakers and the general public.
However, Amazon said that it invested $10 billion to help keep employees safe and deliver products to customers throughout 2020.