A federal judge has granted the New York attorney general’s request to move a lawsuit against Amazon back to New York state court, Reuters reported. AG Letitia James’ lawsuit alleges that the ecommerce giant failed to protect workers at its Brooklyn and Staten Island warehouses from COVID-19 during the early months of the pandemic, and retaliated against employees who complained about the lack of safety measures.
Amazon had sought to have the case moved to federal court, arguing that workplace safety issues were not under James’ purview. The company pre-emptively sued James on February 12th, 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 throughout this pandemic,” James said in a statement following US District Judge Jed Rakoff’s order. “We are pleased with today’s decision to allow this case to be heard in state court, where it belongs.”
The ruling did not address the merits of the lawsuit, which seeks improved conditions for workers and damages for two Amazon workers who say the company retaliated against them.
Workers at Amazon’s JKF8 warehouse in Staten Island said last March that they didn’t have necessary protective equipment. Amazon fired several workers who protested the conditions, including Chris Smalls, who had organized a walkout.
At the time, James called Smalls’ firing “disgraceful” and pushed for an investigation by the National Labor Relations Board. Amazon said at the time that the workers “were not terminated for talking publicly about working conditions” but for violating safety policies.
Amazon did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Verge on Saturday.