Describing James’s requests as “exorbitant demands,” Amazon argued in the filing that its existing protections for workers “far exceed what is required under the law” and “go well beyond measures that the Office of the New York Attorney General (OAG’) has deemed comprehensive.”
Amazon cited the company’s temperature screening policy, signs advising social distancing, and staggering employee shifts at its Staten Island facility as some examples of how it has gone above and beyond. An inspection by the city’s own sheriff’s office, Amazon said, found “absolutely no areas of concern.”
Now, Amazon’s lawsuit reflects how the company is going on the offensive.
“The OAG has now threatened to sue Amazon 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,” Friday’s complaint said. “Among other things, the OAG has demanded that Amazon ‘disgorge’ profits, subsidize public bus service, reduce its production speeds and performance requirements, reinstate Mr. Smalls and pay large sums to Mr. Smalls and Mr. Palmer for ’emotional distress,’ retain a health and safety consultant to oversee safety and production, and adopt safety-related policies it already implemented.”
Amazon also alleged that federal workplace safety law should preempt James’s invocation of state law.
In response to the lawsuit on Friday, James accused Amazon of making “a sad attempt to distract from the facts and shirk accountability for its failures to protect hardworking employees from a deadly virus.”
“We will not be intimidated by anyone, especially corporate bullies that put profits over the health and safety of working people,” she said in a statement. “We remain undeterred in our efforts to protect workers from exploitation and will continue to review all of our legal options.”