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A worker wheels a cart of Amazon packages during a delivery in New York in October. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Amazon Tuesday night over its handling of worker safety during the pandemic, alleging the retail giant hasn't complied with workplace rules.

Details: In the suit, James also alleges that Amazon illegally retaliated when employees expressed concerns about conditions last spring, when it fired an activist following a protest by workers at a warehouse on New York's Staten Island.

  • "Amazon's flagrant disregard for health and safety requirements has threatened serious illness and grave harm to the thousands of workers in these facilities and poses a continued substantial and specific danger to the public health," James said in the suit.

For the record: Amazon filed a lawsuit against James last Friday in an attempt to stop her suing the company, arguing that worker safety claims during the pandemic are federal matters, so she would be overstepping her authority to do so.

Background: James began an investigation into Amazon following the Staten Island protest and the firing of organizers including Christian Smalls — who filed a class-action lawsuit against the e-commerce firm.

  • James argued the state had codified the right to organize in its law so the company's action raised concerns about illegal retaliation.

The other side: Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in an emailed statement to Axios, "We care deeply about the health and safety of our employees, as demonstrated in our filing last week, and we don't believe the Attorney General's filing presents an accurate picture of Amazon’s industry-leading response to the pandemic."

Go deeper

NAACP sues Trump for inciting Capitol riot

President Trump greets supporters at the "Stop The Steal Rally" on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., before the Capitol riots. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The NAACP filed a lawsuit Tuesday against former President Trump and far-right extremist groups in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riots that killed five people and injured dozens of officers.

Why it matters: The federal lawsuit filed on behalf of House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) shows that Trump continues to face legal problems stemming from the riot, even after he was acquitted in his Senate impeachment trial Saturday.

12 mins ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).