Amazon Sues New York Attorney General to Block Covid-19 Charges

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Professor James Brudney shared his expert opinion with The New York Times on Amazon’s lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James regarding workplace safety during the pandemic.

Amazon sued New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, on Friday in an attempt to stop her from bringing charges against the company over safety concerns at two of its warehouses in New York City.

The company also asked the court to force Ms. James to declare that she does not have authority to regulate workplace safety during the Covid-19 pandemic or to investigate allegations of retaliation against employees who protest their working conditions.

James Brudney, a labor law professor at Fordham University, said it was uncommon for companies to file the kind of “scorched earth” anticipatory suit that Amazon had.

“They want to fight,” he said about Amazon. “They always want to fight.”

Mr. Brudney said federal law does pre-empt state workplace safety enforcement in many cases, though there are exceptions Ms. James could argue.

“It seems reasonable to see whether the state can prove its case,” he said. He added that federal oversight had “failed terribly and tragically” to create and enforce pandemic workplace safety, so states have been stepping in to address the gaps.

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