Amazon sues Washington Department of Labor & Industries over alleged hazards

Amazon has filed a lawsuit against the Washington Department of Labor & Industry following disputes over citations and fines over workplace safety issues.

NEW YORK – Amazon has sued the Washington state labor agency following disputes with regulators over citations and fines against the company for workplace safety issues.

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Western District of Washington on Monday, Amazon asked a judge to ban orders from the Washington Department of Labor & Industry that redress any kind of workplace hazards. while the company is awaiting an appeal on the citations.

Amazon argues in the lawsuit that the agency has failed to prove any of its allegations, and that requiring companies like it to remedy the alleged threats before that happens violates its safeguards. due process safeguards under the 14th Amendment.

Matt Ross, a spokesman for the agency, said the department is aware of the lawsuit and will review it alongside the state attorney general’s office.

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In March, the agency said it inspected an Amazon warehouse in Kent, Washington, and found workplace processes “create a serious hazard for back, shoulder and shoulder injuries.” , wrists and knees”. It said workers had to perform tasks, such as lifting and carrying items, at a rapid pace that increased the risk of injury.

Amazon’s warehouse loss rate has been higher than that of other warehouses, something CEO Andy Jassy acknowledged earlier this year and said the company was working to improve. Work and safety advocates have long criticized the company’s fast-moving warehouses, arguing that it is the source of many injuries. And lawmakers in California and New York have passed legislation to limit the use of productivity measures at such facilities.

Washington’s labor agency said Amazon was aware of the hazards at the Kent facility because managers had previously discovered similar violations at three other company warehouses. Regulators fined the company a $7,000 fine for each other facility, Amazon appealed. The agency increased the fine to $60,000 for the Kent facility, in a statement in March that Amazon had “deliberately put workers at risk.”

The company said it disagreed with the allegations and looked forward to “showing the truth as the legal process unfolds.”

“In this particular filing, we are challenging an unusual state request that says we need to change our practices before a full and fair hearing on the merits we seek. I don’t believe it’s the right approach,” Amazon said.

In March, the agency also said it had suggested changes Amazon could make to reduce injuries, such as using height-adjustable platforms to reduce difficult lifting. In the lawsuit, the company said the cost of implementing all of the proposed changes would be prohibitively expensive and would have a “significant impact” on its operations.

Amazon has appealed the citations and a hearing on the case is expected to end early next year.

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