Amazon has sued the Washington State Department of Labor and Industry, alleging an order by government officials asking the internet giant to reduce hazards at a warehouse violates the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
State safety guards inspected an Amazon fulfillment center — codenamed BFI4 — in Kent, Wash., citing the company in March for exposing workers to unsafe conditions and alleging “serious willful” safety violations. The online souk was fined $60,000 and its bosses ordered to devise and execute a plan to improve security at the facility.
Washington officials’ primary concern was that Amazon employees were under pressure to lift, carry and rotate them at a rapid pace, which would inevitably result in injuries.
Amazon then appealed that quote, asking the US state to delay enforcement of a sentence until 2023. Lawyers for the web titan complained he could face fines of up to $70,000 a day if he loses his appeal against the attribution.
The super-corporation’s main problem is that, according to the quote, it has to plan and implement costly changes to its operations before this appeal is even heard, which it sees as a denial of due process.
Before the department can prove a violation, employers must admit, under oath and under penalty of criminal penalties, that a violation has occurred
Amazon also complained that it wasn’t even sure what it was doing wrong, that it was accused of violating ergonomic hazard rules “despite the lack of specific ergonomic standards in Washington or federal occupational safety and health laws,” and which does not specifically cite regulations, only that it allegedly failed to maintain “a safe workplace”.
Additionally, the internet giant is upset that the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA) requires companies like itself that contest the department’s subpoenas to sign an “employer certificate of mitigation form” that forces them to admit that Security risks exist, which exposes them to the risk of criminal penalties.
All in all, Amazon believes this procedure to be unconstitutional, hence the lawsuit demanding the citation be blocked on these grounds and attorneys’ fees paid.
“Before the department can prove a violation, employers must admit, under oath and under penalty of criminal penalties, that a violation has occurred. This highly unusual structure stacks the cards in the department’s favor and leaves employers with no meaningful opportunity to contest a mitigation request.” Amazon’s lawsuit [PDF]filed in federal court in Seattle reads.
“By requiring employers like Amazon to incur significant financial and operational burdens to mitigate suspected hazards before the department has demonstrated a violation of workplace safety regulations, and by not providing employers with a meaningful opportunity to challenge the mitigation requirement or to appeal the denial of a motion to stay the reduction, WISHA’s procedure to stay the reduction violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit continued.
The Fourteenth Amendment states that no US citizen can be denied due process of law and is entitled to equal protection.
Amazon claimed that before an appeal is heard, appealing to eliminate the alleged safety hazards would require a redesign of the warehouse: equipment would need to be moved or installed, and workers would need training. The lawsuit would disrupt its operations and cost the company millions of dollars, his attorneys argued. Amazon doesn’t want to do this if there’s any chance of winning its appeal.
“The safety of our employees is our top priority and we do not agree with these allegations and look forward to establishing the facts as the court case progresses,” said an Amazon spokesman The registry.
“In this particular filing, we are challenging an unusual government requirement that we must change our operations before a full and fair hearing on the matter, which we do not believe is the right approach.”
The registry also asked the State Department of Labor for comment. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/05/amazon_sues_washington_citation/ Amazon sues Washington state over warehouse security order • The Register