Chris Smalls was a management assistant at an Amazon facility in Staten Island, New York until he was fired after he organized a walkout to get the company to provide employees with sanitary working conditions and personal protective equipment.
Amazon says that they fired Smalls—two hours after the walkout—because he refused to go home when the company told him he’d been in close contact to a fellow employee who had tested positive for COVID-19.
Employees support Smalls; at least 50 of them joined the legal walkout (Amazon says that the number was 15). Amazon employees in many states have complained about the company’s policies during the pandemic, pointing to uneven safety precautions at facilities across the U.S., lack of supplies such as hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes, and insufficient information about infected employees.
Smalls claims that “Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us, our families, and our communities safe.” “It’s a shame on them,” he adds, “to fire someone after five years for sticking up for people and trying to give them a voice.”
Both the National Labor Relations Board and New York’s Commission on Civil Rights have been asked to investigate Smalls’ firing.