Fired Amazon organizer loses bid to revive racism lawsuit


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Amazon Labor Union (ALU) organizer Christian Smalls speaks at an Amazon facility during a rally on Staten Island, New York City, U.S., April 24, 2022. REUTERS /Andrew Kelly/File Photo


By Daniel Wiesner

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Thursday refused to reinstate claims that Inc (NASDAQ:) fired New York warehouse worker Christian Smalls, a key figure in the battle. consolidated the company’s workforce, because he was Black.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Manhattan in a brief order said a Brooklyn judge correctly ruled that Smalls’ firing in 2020 after he organized a protest against Amazon unrelated to his race.

Amazon and Smalls’ attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Amazon fired Smalls in March 2020, saying he participated in a protest at a Staten Island warehouse where he supervised other workers despite being in paid quarantine after he close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Smalls in a lawsuit filed that year said he was targeted because of his race and his support for the warehouse’s largely non-white workforce.

At a hearing last week, Round 2 judges said he had failed to substantiate those claims and that his termination appeared to be related to his complaints about conditions of safety, not a matter of race.

Smalls and other warehouse workers formed the Amazon Labor Union, which in April won the first U.S. union vote in Amazon’s 27-year history. Workers at other Amazon warehouses in New York and Alabama have rejected the union.

Several complaints have been filed with the US National Labor Relations Board alleging that Amazon illegally retaliated against pro-union workers at its Staten Island warehouse, including Smalls. Amazon has denied wrongdoing in the pending cases.

Smalls became a celebrity after being fired, leading the Amazon boycott and testifying before the US Senate in a jacket that read “Eat the Rich”.

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