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Employees Sue Amazon for Inadequate COVID-19 Procedures

By Rich Duprey – Jun 8, 2020 at 10:16AM

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The e-commerce giant says it already follows public health and safety protocols.

Although it was lauded for its assistance in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic early on, Amazon.com (AMZN -1.24%) continues to receive criticism for the way it is protecting its employees.

Three employees are now suing Amazon for what they deem "sloppy contact tracing" protocols that don't follow guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control.

An Amazon warehouse employee loads an item onto a shelf.

Image source: Amazon.com.

Leaving a trail

Contact tracing an important aspect of halting the spread of COVID-19. It's the process of identifying and alerting people who may have come in contact with an employee who has contracted the coronavirus.

When a warehouse employee is diagnosed, Amazon reportedly reviews surveillance footage of that employee and alerts anyone who may have been in contact with them. The employees suing Amazon say that practice is not only inadequate, but also at odds with CDC guidelines that call for an interview with the patient to get a more complete accounting of their interactions.

CNBC reports three workers at Amazon's JFK8 warehouse in New York filed a lawsuit in a U.S. district court charging the retailer with erecting a "facade of compliance," and conducting "sloppy contact tracing" that puts employees at risk.

Amazon refutes the allegations, saying the surveillance footage review is but one of a number of steps it takes in accordance with guidelines issued by various agencies, including employee interviews.

The employee lawsuit was filed with the assistance of activist organizations Towards Justice, Public Justice, and Make the Road New York. Amazon has been the target of various activist campaigns over various issues, including worker pay and employee safety. The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages, but rather compliance with public health standards, which the retailer says it already does.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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