Five United States senators from the Democratic Party on Wednesday asked Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) chief executive officer Jeff Bezos to explain the firing of a worker who led protests at one of the company's New York warehouses, Reuters reported.
"The right to organize is a bedrock of our economy, responsible for many of the greatest advances achieved by workers over generations," the letter said, as per Reuters.
The senators, led by New Jersey's Cory Booker, cited media reports that the worker, Christian Smalls, participated in the protest on March 28, days after his quarantine period should have ended following the other worker's COVID-19 positive diagnosis on March 11, according to the Reuters report. Amazon has maintained that Smalls was in contact with the positive worker much after March 11.
Health experts recommend a quarantine period of 14 days following contact with a coronavirus positive patient, as symptoms would show up in this period of time if the suspect has contracted coronavirus.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio earlier this month announced that the city authorities were investigating the termination of Smalls.
Why It Matters
Smalls was fired by Amazon on the grounds of violating a paid quarantine to lead the protest against the e-commerce behemoth's policies on the safety of the workers during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The assistant manager, who said he managed between 50 to 200 people, had called on Amazon to temporarily shut down the Staten Island facility and sanitize the space after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus. He also asked the company to give workers paid leaves for the period.
The demand for Amazon's services has increased during the pandemic, as more people are forced to stay home to curb the spread of the virus. The Seattle-based company has said it is looking to hire an additional 100,000 workers to meet the demand.
Employees working in warehouses and deliveries are at a significant risk of catching the deadly virus and have frequently expressed concerns over their safety, as recently noted by CNBC.
Amazon shares closed 1.56% higher at $2,043.00 on Wednesday. The shares traded another 0.26% up in the after-hours session at $2,048.23.
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