The Versailles Court of Appeals on Friday upheld a recent decision banning Amazon from delivering non-essential items in France during the COVID-19 crisis.
In response to a lawsuit filed by French labor unions—worried employees are putting their lives in danger to fulfill superfluous orders—a local magistrate earlier this month ruled that Amazon may ship only “essential” items: health and hygiene products, food, pet food, and electronics. Threatened with a €1 million ($1.1 million) fine per order that doesn’t meet the court’s requirements, Amazon decided to simply shutter its six French warehouses and furlough 10,000 workers. Orders would instead be fulfilled by facilities in Germany, Belgium, and elsewhere in Europe.
Friday’s loss in the appellate court “raises the stakes for Amazon in France,” according to The New York Times, which highlighted the company’s strained relationship with local unions. Despite allegedly providing health and safety measures (hand sanitizer, face masks), Amazon reportedly failed to consult with employee representatives and labor unions—”a condition of doing business in France,” the Times said.
“We have heard the outcome of our appeal and remain puzzled by the decision,” Amazon wrote in a translated tweet. “We are currently assessing the implications for our sites as well as for our employees and customers in France. But also for French [small and midsize businesses] which rely on Amazon to develop their activity.” Some 15,000 French workers have also signed a petition calling for the reopening of distribution centers across the country. In the US, meanwhile, Amazon is facing scrutiny over workers contracting COVID-19.