The New York Attorney General is reportedly looking into whether Amazon retaliated against employees who criticized its labor practices.
The New York AG has been interviewing workers in Amazon facilities throughout the state about whether Amazon violated labor laws in firing or other retaliation against workers who spoke out about warehouse conditions, according to CNBC.
In April, the New York AG notified Amazon in a letter that it was looking into whether the company broke employment or whistleblower laws in firing a worker, Chris Smalls, who organized a strike at a Staten Island facility.
Now, the investigation has reportedly broadened to include other retaliatory actions Amazon may have taken against workers who spoke out about unsafe conditions at its facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eight Amazon workers have died after contracting COVID-19, according to media reports, and many more more have been infected across the U.S. In May, a group of state AGs sent Amazon and Whole Foods, its subsidiary, a letter asking for a state-by-state breakdown of COVID-19 infections and deaths among Amazon workers.
In the meantime, Amazon has allegedly fired or written up workers who either attempted to organize workers, participated in protests or confronted management with concerns about warehouse conditions. Some of those workers also filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, according to CNBC.
An Amazon spokesperson said that “we are saddened by the tragic impact COVID-19 has had on communities across the globe, including on some Amazon team members and their family and friends. From early March to May 1, we offered our employees unlimited time away from work, and since May 1 we have offered leave for those most vulnerable or who need to care for children or family members."
The New York AG's office was not immediately available for comment.
Amazon has recently sought to highlight the safety measures it's taken in warehouses, including temperature checks, testing and providing personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks. Amazon has more than 250,000 full-time workers at its fulfillment centers.
The company said in its first quarter earnings report that it would reinvest virtually all of its profits for the current quarter, as much as $4 billion, into its COVID-19 response.
That entails everything from purchasing safety equipment for workers and ramping up a worker testing system, to investing in its e-commerce infrastructure to better respond to high demand.
Amazon shares are up 33% year to date.