Chris Smalls, an assistant warehouse manager for Amazon, was recently fired after organizing a walking protest over working conditions at the company’s facility on Staten Island. The incident quickly made national news and has drawn harsh criticism for the massive online retailer, including from Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the New York attorney general.
Smalls had helped to organize and lead a protest over what workers believed to be an insufficient level of protection against the COVID-19 virus. Amazon confirmed one positive case of COVID-19 at the facility, but workers claimed there were at least 10 cases, and during the walkout chanted “shut it down!” to encourage higher-ups to close down the facility for cleaning and sanitization. Workers claim they were not provided face masks, and that cleaning supplies around the building were not stocked to sufficient levels.
Less than two hours after the protest completed, Smalls was told via phone he was fired. Amazon claimed he was fired for “safety issues,” and that he “received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk.” Smalls, however, called the termination a “targeted retaliation,” and used the timing of the firing as evidence.
Smalls worked for Amazon for five years before his termination. He says workers have been coming to the warehouse while sick because only people who are actually diagnosed positive with COVID-19 get paid sick leave from the company. Amazon says it recently changed policies to require anyone feeling sick to stay home, and that it started taking people’s temperatures at the Staten Island facility.
If you believe you have been a victim of wrongful termination after exposing company wrongdoing, contact an experienced whistleblower lawyer at Kardell Law Group for legal advice and representation.