Amazon is being sued by New York over allegations it failed to provide staff at two warehouses with a safe working environment at the height of coronavirus infections in the city.
New York attorney general Letitia James accuses the company of disregarding its health and safety requirements and of acting illegally when employees raised concerns.
The lawsuit was ordered following an investigation launched by Ms James into the firing of one individual and a written warning handed to another member of staff.
Both were said to have questioned Amazon’s response to the pandemic in communication with managers.
The case centres on operations at Amazon warehouses in Staten Island and Queens as New York battled surging COVID-19 cases in March last year.
The inquiry was said to have found evidence of failures with respect to cleaning and disinfection protocols, contact tracing, and allowing employees to take precautions to protect themselves from the risk of infection.
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The company, which was yet to comment on the lawsuit, has previously defended its practices, arguing they were based on the recommendations of experts.
Amazon has said the employee who was fired was told to leave for violating social-distancing guidelines.
It has faced similar accusations relating to virus safety measures from unions in the UK.
The company, which has counter-sued in a bid to block the New York lawsuit, enjoyed a record year for revenues globally in 2020 as its businesses saw surging demand for deliveries and entertainment during lockdowns and other restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.
Amazon reported revenues of $386.1bn (£283bn) – up 38% on 2019.