"Mr. Smalls was found to have had close contact with a diagnostician associated with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and was asked to stay home with pay for 14 days, which is a measure we take in places around the world," said Amazon spokeswoman Kristen Kish. "Despite the instruction to stay home with pay, he arrived on the scene today, March 30, putting the teams at risk."
The shooting follows the protest partly organized by Smalls, who had asked Amazon to shut down the Staten Island facility for deep cleansing after several cases of coronavirus appeared there. In an interview Sunday, Smalls told CNN he had it spent the past week trying to persuade senior store members to shut down the building and sterilize it, but to no avail.
Monday's protest saw more than a dozen people get off work around lunchtime, according to Amazon and a livestream from the incident seen by CNN.
In a phone interview Monday night after the shooting, Smalls said he was being punished and his shooting reflects a culture of apathy at Amazon.
"Everyone has warned me about it [this] can happen, so I expected quite, "Smalls said." But for them to do it this way, and the reasoning behind it, which tells you right there that they, number one, don't care about people and number two, it's just a goal, a straight up goal. "
Smalls said he plans to visit City Hall next time to persuade local authorities to intervene.
New York State Attorney Letitia James said late Monday night that "it is shameful that Amazon would dismiss an employee who bravely lined up to protect himself and his colleagues."
"At the height of a global pandemic, Chris Smalls and his colleagues publicly protested the lack of precautions Amazon was taking to protect them from COVID-19," she said. "Today, Chris Smalls was fired. In New York, the right to organize is codified by law, and any retaliation from management related to it is strictly prohibited."