An Amazon employee who worked at the company's Staten Island warehouse has been fired a day after he led a walkout over the retail giant's handling of its workers during the coronavirus crisis.
The employee, Christian Smalls, reportedly had close contact with a colleague who tested positive for COVID-19 and was supposed to be in a 14-day paid quarantine. An Amazon spokesperson told CNN that Smalls was fired for defying the stay-home directions to come to work on March 30.
Smalls and a number of other employees had been urging Amazon to temporarily shut down the Staten Island facility for a deep cleaning after multiple workers there tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
He said workers worried facilities like theirs were "breeding grounds for this pandemic," but management refused the temporary closure, citing the company's existing health policies.
Around lunchtime on Monday, a number of Amazon workers walked out of the facility in protest.
Despite being given quarantine instructions on Saturday, Smalls told CNN he believes he was fired because of his complaints.
New York Attorney General Letitia James called Smalls' termination a "disgraceful" act by Amazon.
"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," she said. "Today, Chris Smalls was fired. In New York, the right to organize is codified into law, and any retaliatory action by management related thereto is strictly prohibited."
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