HomeNewsAmazon to Face House Oversight Committee Investigation Over Illinois Warehouse Collapse During Tornadoes

Amazon to Face House Oversight Committee Investigation Over Illinois Warehouse Collapse During Tornadoes

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

Outsiders nationwide recall the devastating storms that tore across the Midwest just a few months ago. Now, Amazon faces a federal investigation following the Illinois warehouse collapse that resulted in six employee deaths in December.

What to Know:

  • The House Oversight Committee has launched an investigation into Amazon.
  • Six people died during extreme weather events in December at an Illinois Amazon warehouse.
  • Devastating tornadoes caused the warehouse to collapse.
  • Company officials reportedly threatened to fire employees attempting to leave during the storms.

Amazon Required to Share Company Safety Policies & Practices

On December 11th and 12 of last year, six Amazon employees died in an Illinois warehouse collapse. At the time, personnel reportedly had to keep working amid extreme weather conditions. Several survivors reported that company officials threatened their jobs if they attempted to leave during the tornadoes.

Now, the House Oversight Committee is conducting an investigation into Amazon as the company put employee safety at risk. Fox Business stated that multiple U.S. House Representatives wrote a letter to company CEO Andy Jassy requesting access to documents detailing Amazon’s labor practices.

The request sees support from House Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-NY; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY; and Cori Bush, D-MO.

In the letter, the House Reps. wrote, “We are concerned by recent reports that Amazon may be putting the health and safety of its workers at risk, including by requiring them to work in dangerous conditions during tornadoes, hurricanes, and other extreme weather.”

According to the news outlet, Amazon has until the 14th of this month to submit any documents and related communications tied to the warehouse collapse. They must also provide company workplace policies and safety practices.

Amazon Investigation to Go Beyond Warehouse Collapse

The Amazon warehouse collapse and the resulting tragedies will likely remain the focus of the House Oversight Committee’s investigation. However, the representatives plan to look into other similar incidents.

Some might remember that soon after the building collapsed, reports came that one laborer had texted his girlfriend from the location, stating Amazon “won’t let us leave.”

Further, one of the deceased employees is 26-year-old Austin McEwen, an independent contractor who made deliveries for Amazon. The start of the New Year saw McEwen’s parents file a lawsuit against the tech company. In their suit, they claimed Amazon put profit ahead of their son’s and the other victims’ safety.

During a January Zoom conference, McEwen’s mother said, “It appears that Amazon placed profits during this holiday season instead of the safety of our son and the other five families who lost loved ones.”

The McEwens’ January lawsuit reads, “[Amazon] carelessly required individuals…to continue working up until the moments before the tornado struck.”

The federal investigation is also looking into reports that an Amazon delivery driver was told to keep running her route during the tornadoes, or that she wouldn’t have a job come the next day.

CNET reports that the December incident isn’t the only one to warrant the current Amazon investigation. The committee also stated, “Amazon workers were reportedly required to stay on the job during deadly wildfires in California in 2018, extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest in Summer 2021, and dangerous flooding during Hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Ida in 2021.”