Amazon Settles Whistleblower Suit Over COVID-19 Protocols

By Lauren Berg
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Law360 (March 10, 2021, 4:53 PM EST) -- Amazon and a former employee who claimed he was fired in retaliation for reporting that a shift manager at a New Jersey facility flouted coronavirus safety protocols told a Garden State federal judge Tuesday they have resolved the dispute.

David J. Bailey and Amazon filed a one-page stipulation of dismissal with prejudice on Tuesday, telling U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler they have resolved the matter. The filing does not include details about the settlement, and representatives for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Bailey, who was tasked with enforcing such safety measures as an Inc. learning ambassador, said he was fired in August after complaining that Kristopher Lauderdale refused to keep at least a 6-foot distance from other workers, according to the complaint filed in October asserting a violation of New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act.

Bailey said in his suit that he realized the company operated its business "unlawfully on a sustained and continued basis with regard to enforcing safety laws/regulations surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic."

"Plaintiff also discovered that Lauderdale had been reported several times by several employees for violations of said laws/regulations but HR either ignored or refused to pass the complaints on to upper management," the complaint said.

Bailey was hired as a learning ambassador in June 2019 for the company's Bellmawr, New Jersey, facility, where he "assisted floor managers, trained new associates, ensured that existing associates maintained quality standards, and enforced Amazon protocols," according to the complaint.

Those job responsibilities extended this year to enforcing safety measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the complaint said.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order on April 8 directing that manufacturing and warehousing businesses "'require individuals to maintain six feet or more distance between them wherever possible' and 'require workers and visitors to wear cloth face coverings, in accordance with [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations ... [and] gloves, while on the premises,'" the complaint noted.

In accordance with those regulations, Amazon instituted safety protocols for its workers, including requiring employees to wear masks and maintain a distance of at least six feet while working at company facilities, the complaint said.

As part of his enforcement, Bailey said he saw Lauderdale repeatedly violate the state regulations and company safety protocols by wearing a mask incorrectly or not at all, and not maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other employees.

Bailey also noticed that when another learning ambassador or employee reported Lauderdale for such violations, the worker "would be written up and/or suspended by defendants' management for bogus reasons," the complaint said. Bailey said he himself told Lauderdale about his violations multiple times "to no avail."

In early August, Bailey saw Lauderdale and another manager standing and talking within two or three feet of each other, the complaint said. When Bailey told them they were not following mandated social distancing guidelines, "Lauderdale ignored plaintiff and visibly rolled his eyes," the complaint said.

Bailey said he then filed a report with the company's on-site human resources department about Lauderdale's refusal to stay at least six feet away from other employees.

"Instead of properly investigating and/or addressing plaintiff's complaints of defendants' managements' violations of state and/or federal regulations/laws, plaintiff was placed on suspension for purportedly 'threatening' Lauderdale, and then abruptly terminated just a few days later on or about August 15, 2020," according to the complaint.

Bailey is represented by Timothy S. Seiler of Karpf Karpf & Cerutti PC.

Amazon is represented by Rudolph J. Burshnic II and August W. Heckman III of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.

The case is David J. Bailey v. Inc. et al., case number 1:20-cv-14306, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

--Additional reporting by Bill Wichert. Editing by Regan Estes.

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Case Information

Case Title


Case Number



New Jersey

Nature of Suit

Civil Rights: Jobs


Robert B. Kugler

Date Filed

October 12, 2020

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