Injunction Denied Regarding Alleged Violation of COVID-19 Requirements
August 10, 2020
Brent v. Amazon.com
In yet another COVID-19 related lawsuit regarding employee health and safety, Amazon has been sued in the San Francisco Superior Court. The Plaintiff asserts that Amazon has failed to take adequate measures to protect employee health and safety in their warehouse, (known as UCA1), because (1) Amazon failed to sanitize common areas and equipment used by multiple employees; (2) Amazon failed to sanitize “freezer suits” used by multiple employees; and (3) Amazon failed to ensure proper social distancing. Brent alleges that these failures violate numerous provisions of the labor code, Cal-OSHA regulations, and the local shelter-in-place (“SIP”) order.
Various agencies became involved in investigations of the warehouse, including the City of San Francisco (“City”) through the San Francisco Department of Public Health (“SFDPH”), Cal-OSHA, and the Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”). After investigating UCA1, the City and SFDPH determined that no injunction was necessary. Cal-OSHA is still conducting an ongoing investigation into the UCA1 facility and the OAG has initiated a request for information regarding Amazon’s practices and policies related to COVID-19.
The Court refused to grant a preliminary injunction finding that plaintiff had not shown that there is an ongoing serious regulatory violation posing a risk of irreparable harm to employees or the public. This is evidenced by the fact that the City found no violations in their most recent inspection. In addition, the Court found that an injunction would require the court to expend vast amounts of time and expertise it does not have and courts have deferred to the expertise of responsible agencies. Here, the City and SFDPH, Cal-OSHA, and the OAG all are tasked with enforcing the relevant laws and regulations for the alleged violations. These agencies and their enforcement powers provide Plaintiff several alternate forms of relief if Amazon fails to comply with the relevant laws and regulations.
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