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Does a Worker Injured at an Amazon Warehouse in Illinois Have any Recourse if They are Required to Be at Work During the Pandemic?

As an Amazon warehouse worker, there are certain risks that come with the job. One thing that you, as an Amazon worker, should not have to accept as “just part of the job” is being placed at an unreasonable risk of exposure to coronavirus. If there is any slight degree of good news, it is that, if you’re placed in that kind of situation, the law may provide you with a remedy though civil action. If that sounds like your workplace circumstances, be sure to act without delay by contacting an experienced Chicago workplace injury attorney.

Reports have come in from Amazon warehouses around the county about workers at risk, and even some who have died. D.G. was an Amazon warehouse worker in Sacramento who had been injured at work. D.G.’s doctor’s orders following the injury stated he was required to remain seated at work at all times. Rather than allow D.G. to remain home during the height of the pandemic and governmental stay-at-home orders, Amazon continued to require D.G. to be present at the warehouse, according to a CNet report.

While at work, he asserted that he had his employer’s blessing to use the internet on his phone, text his wife and chat with other employees stationed nearby. He said he was given no work to do and received no supervision, but he was required to be at the Amazon warehouse’s breakroom 10 hours a day, every day. According to the report, his employer instructed to “sit there watching Netflix if I wanted to,” as long as he was sitting in that room.

D.G., understandably, feared for his health and the health of his loved ones with whom he shared a household. His wife’s father, who had a history of heart trouble and used an oxygen tank, lived with D.G. and his wife. Even though he was being paid for sitting in the breakroom, the worker’s concerns about COVID-19 led him to ask for permission to take unpaid leave twice, CNet reported.

D.G.’s concerns were not without basis. D.G.’s own Sacramento warehouse had two confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the report. On top that, more than 10 other warehouses reported positives for COVID-19. This included an Amazon worker who worked in the Tracy, Cal. warehouse who died from COVID-19 and other coronavirus fatalities suffered by a Hawthorne, Cal. Amazon warehouse worker and a Staten Island, N.Y. worker.

Certainly as an Amazon worker, being required to be present at a facility where you may be exposed to coronavirus is potentially terrifying. Fortunately, there are ways to fight back. In June, workers at Amazon’s Staten Island, N.Y. facility sued the company. In that lawsuit, the workers alleged that the employer placed them at an unreasonable degree of risk. These allegations included insufficient amounts of hand sanitizer, inadequate leave policies to accommodate quarantine requirements and job demands that made proper social distancing impossible, according to a CNN report.

If you’ve been harmed because your employer didn’t do what it should have to keep you safe, fight back by putting a skilled legal advocate on your side. Reach out to the diligent Chicago workplace injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, who have many years of protecting workers throughout the Chicagoland area. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

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