Boxes with the Amazon logo turned into a frown face are stacked up | Getty Images

Boxes with the Amazon logo turned into a frown face are stacked up | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

De Blasio orders investigation into Amazon over Staten Island worker's firing

The city has launched an investigation into Amazon for firing a warehouse worker who organized a strike to demand coronavirus protections.

The employee, Chris Smalls, was fired Monday after he organized a walkout at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse, where workers charged they have little protection against the spread of the virus.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday he ordered the Human Rights Commission to investigate.

“The allegation is because he spoke up for the safety of his fellow workers, he was fired,” de Blasio said. “If so, that would be a violation of our city human rights law. We would act on it immediately.”

If found liable, the company could face fines from the city's anti-discrimination commission.

The sheriff’s office also inspected the warehouse to ensure social distancing rules were being observed, and will continue to do additional inspections as needed, de Blasio said.

“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. I am outraged and disappointed, but I’m not shocked,” Smalls said in a statement after his termination.

He said conditions at the facility “are legitimately dangerous for workers and the public. Amazon thinks this might shut me up, but I’m going to keep speaking up.”

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the investigation. The company told the Associated Press Smalls was fired because he himself violated social distancing rules and showed up at the facility despite being ordered to stay home and quarantine.

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