Former Staples Fulfillment Center Worker Settles Workplace Suit

Court Settlement

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A former employee of a Staples fulfillment center in La Mirada who sued the company, alleging the office supply store chain has put profits over safety when it comes to protecting the warehouse work force during the coronavirus pandemic, has settled his case for $3,000.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Amy D. Hogue on Oct. 5 approved plaintiff Richard Booth's request for dismissal of his lawsuit, which he filed last Dec. 11. Although filed as a proposed class-action case, the suit was never certified in that regard, according to a supporting declaration by Booth's lawyer, Joshua Konecky.

Attorneys for Staples Inc. wrote in their court papers that Booth's lawsuit was “frivolous'' and that their clients had complied with all applicable laws and regulations. They also said Booth worked for Staples Contract & Commercial LLC, not Staples Inc.

Booth alleged that some of the conditions at Staples facilities amounted to a public nuisance and that the health of employees, customers and family members were all potentially affected.

Many Staples warehouse employees worked within close proximity of each other, according to the complaint, which said it's “critical for a company like Staples to implement proper procedures to stop the spread of COVID-19 amongst their employees and the public'' and that Staples' alleged failure to take measures to stop the spread of thedisease “has serious implications and potentially catastrophic consequences.''

Booth worked at Staples' La Mirada warehouse from August 2017 until June 2020 and alleged at least two workers contracted the coronavirus at the Trojan Way building. From the start of the pandemic, Staples management failed to take such safety measures as staggering work shifts and implementing social distance rules, his suit alleged. Workers who feel ill go to work anyway because they fear they will be punished for not showing up, according to the plaintiff.

The La Mirada warehouse has two restrooms with sinks that must be shared by about 100 employees, according to the suit, which alleged that common areas and restrooms are not adequately cleaned and supervisors leave it up to workers to sanitize the workplace.

Hand sanitizing, if available at all, was offered in only one part of the warehouse, the suit alleged. The plaintiff also claimed that masks were given out once a month and gloves were provided only after the old ones wore out.

“Many of defendants' employees, forced to fend for themselves, have had to purchase their own supplies,'' the suit stated.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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