Amazon fires worker protesting coronavirus conditions

Amazon says he was terminated for 'violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk'

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A five-year Amazon employee who was fired Monday after staging a small walkout at a Staten Island warehouse over conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic told FOX Business it was "retaliation."

"It was retaliation," Christian Smalls told FOX Business. "There's no way around it. The truth will come out."

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An Amazon spokesperson said Smalls was terminated for "violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk," including by coming on site for the walkout on Monday. He came in contact with a coworker who tested positive for coronavirus last week and was asked to stay home, but Smalls said he had much less contact with that coworker than some of his fellow employees.

"I didn't violate any safety guidelines. When were these implemented?" Smalls said. "As far as the quarantine, what gives Amazon medical expertise? Who's making these decisions on who gets quarantined? What is their definition of close contact?"

New York Attorney General Letitia James expressed support for Smalls on Monday night and said her office was "considering all legal options" and calling on the National Labor Relations Board to investigate.

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"It is disgraceful that Amazon would terminate an employee who bravely stood up to protect himself and his colleagues," James said in a statement. "At the height of a global pandemic, Chris Smalls and his colleagues publicly protested the lack of precautions that Amazon was taking to protect them from COVID-19."

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"In New York, the right to organize is codified into law, and any retaliatory action by management related thereto is strictly prohibited," she said.

Smalls said he demanded that the Staten Island facility be shut down so it could be sanitized after Amazon confirmed a worker had tested positive for coronavirus.

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Amazon is consulting with government officials and medical experts to evaluate which of its facilities need to be closed for deep cleaning and is offering an additional $2 per hour for workers, the company said.

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"We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances," an Amazon spokesperson told FOX Business on Monday.

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