CHICAGO-AREA AMAZON WAREHOUSE WORKERS MAY BE AT AN INCREASED RISK OF INJURY AFTER JOLIET FULFILLMENT CENTER ANNOUNCES COVID-19 DIAGNOSIS
According to an Amazon spokesperson, an worker at Joliet’s Amazon fulfillment center has recently tested positive for the novel Coronavirus (SARS – CoV2). It is understood that the employee last worked on March 18 and is in quarantine. The worker’s identity remains confidential. There is no information yet on the health and safety of co-workers. Apparently, the announcement of this case was made on a Facebook group page for local employees. Clearly, during Amazon’s recent rise in business, there are no plans to close the facility. However, this may change if another worker tests positive. This is just one of many similar cases across the United States with no end in sight to the high risk of exposure. It comes as no surprise the New York area Amazon employees are expected to strike to gain basic safety protections at their jobs against the Coronavirus even if Amazon keeps raising their pay as they have been doing over the past month.
It is doubtful that Amazon will be able to slow the spread of sickness at its warehouses. Although Amazon may be doing some deep-cleaning in its Joliet facility, the company is claiming that they are also using social distancing despite the cramped proximity in which these employees must work as demand makes Amazon orders skyrocket and the need for more workers to be present to complete those orders. For example, Amazon is using boards to write messages instead of having meetings and spreading out chairs in break rooms. When employees actually find the time to take a break, their breaks are being staggered. Even though sick employees are being told to stay home and seek medical attention, workers can have no symptoms for several days but be contagious to all people in proximity.
Amazon claims they are supporting their sick and injured employee in Joliet, following guidelines, and taking extreme measures ensure the safety of employees in Joliet. It is still widely anticipated that Amazon expects business to carry on as usual with both its warehouse workers and its Amazon Flex drivers. In fact, Amazon has begun working with Lyft to use inactive drivers to deliver for Amazon. While this is certain to provide some much needed cash to Lyft drivers, it will most certainly not provide Lyft drivers with any workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job. This is because Lyft drivers are not considered employees by Lyft just like Amazon Flex drivers are not considered employees by Amazon.com, Inc. Unlike Amazon Flex and Lyft drivers, Amazon fulfillment or warehouse workers are considered employees of Amazon.com, Inc. This means that Amazon will fight each and every claim that a Lyft or Amazon Flex driver makes for work comp benefits.
Amazon is supposedly offering employees who contract Covid-19 two weeks of pay, but injured workers may be able to receive more than what the company offers. Katz Friedman is currently representing many injured Amazon workers in cases against their employer and will continue to investigate claims being made by Amazon employees for all injuries. When making decisions regarding a work injury sustained while working at Amazon or for Amazon Flex, it is wise to consult an attorney to protect your interests because it is clear that the company already has their lawyers working on it. If you or someone you know works for Amazon and has suffered injury due to a motor vehicle crash or work injury, the attorneys and staff at Katz Friedman are here to help with obtaining proper compensation.