The lawsuit against Amazon, claiming it failed to protect workers from COVID-19, went back to court in New York

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A federal judge has granted the New York Attorney General’s request to return a lawsuit against Amazon to the New York District Court, Reuters reportedAG Letitia James’ lawsuit alleges that in the early months of the pandemic, the e-commerce giant failed to protect workers in its Brooklyn and Staten Island warehouses from COVID-19, and retaliated against workers who complained about the lack of security measures.

Amazon had tried to take the matter to federal court, arguing that workplace safety issues were not within James’s remit. The company preemptively sued James on Feb. 12, and James sued Amazon four days later. Amazon then moved the lawsuit to federal court.

“Amazon has forced its employees to work in unsafe conditions during this pandemic,” James said in a statement prompted by US District Judge Jed Rakoff. “We are pleased with today’s decision to have this case heard in state courts, where it belongs.”

The ruling did not address the merits of the lawsuit, which seeks better working conditions and compensation for two Amazon employees who say the company retaliated against them.

Workers at Amazon’s JKF8 warehouse on Staten Island said last March that they did not have the necessary protective equipment. Amazon fired several workers who protested the circumstances, including Chris Smalls, who organized a strike.

At that moment, James called the firing of Smalls “disgraceful” and urged an investigation by the National Labor Relations Board. Amazon said at the time that the workers “were not fired for publicly speaking about working conditions” but for violating security policy.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The edge on Saturday.