Amazon says it will investigate after we obtained a photo appearing to show a lack of social distancing at Indiana warehouse

cdavis@insider.com (Charles Davis)
FILE PHOTO: Amazon boxes are seen stacked for delivery in the Manhattan borough of New York City

Reuters

  • Amazon has implemented a number of social distancing policies amid the coronavirus pandemic, but employees say the reality does not always match the rhetoric.
  • A worker at an Amazon warehouse in Indiana sent Business Insider a photo that they allege shows managers huddled at a table next to a sign that states, "Please work together to ensure social distancing is happening."
  • Amazon told Business Insider that it will investigate the incident.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Amazon says it will investigate a photo that appears to show managers at one of its warehouses failing to abide by the company's stated policy of social distancing during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the company said Wednesday.

The photo was sent to Business Insider by an employee at an Amazon fulfillment center in Jeffersonville, Indiana, who wishes to stay anonymous citing fear of retaliation.

The photo appears to show three people crowded around a small table, none wearing protective gear, standing by a whiteboard that says, "Your safety is our highest priority. Please work together to ensure social distancing is happening."

Employees at an Amazon warehouse in Indiana huddle for a meeting next to signs encouraging employees to stay apart.

Amazon worker

In mid-March, the online retailer announced it would be following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would require employees to remain six feet apart at all times. It also stopped holding "stand-up" meetings, which workers complained had required them to stand shoulder to shoulder at the beginning of their shifts.

The employee who provided the photo, taken March 31, claims the company's dictates are routinely flouted by managers.

"This is normal," they claimed. "They're at that table every day, all day long, sometimes more than three of them. And nobody's saying anything to them."

In a statement, Amazon insisted that all operations sites are enforcing safety measures. "Any situation in which teams don't follow social distancing guidelines will be immediately investigated," spokesperson Rachael Lighty told Business Insider.

Workers in at least 19 Amazon warehouses have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as of March 30. 

Clark County, where the Indiana facility is based, has confirmed 38 cases of the novel coronavirus, reporting its first death on April 1.

"We're risking our lives for a pair of tennis shoes," the employee at the Indiana facility said in an interview.

"A lot of people still aren't wearing gloves or washing their hands," they continued. "It's a breeding ground for the virus."

On Monday, workers at an Amazon warehouse walked out to protest what they claim are unsafe working conditions, demanding that the company conduct a deep cleaning of the facility.

One of the organizers of that protest, Chris Smalls, was then fired for what the company said was a violation of an order to self-quarantine after having "had close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of COVID-19."

In a March 30 press release, New York Attorney General Letitia James called the firing "disgraceful…. immoral and inhumane."

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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