Amazon agrees to disclose new COVID case numbers in California to settle AG’s investigation

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An Amazon employee enters a fulfillment center in Kent, Wash., and is given a mask from another employee using tongs, before beginning the shift at the massive package handling warehouse. (Geekwire Photo/Kurt Schlosser)

in legal agreement Described as the first of its kind in the nationAmazon agreed to disclose the number of new COVID-19 cases to workers and local health officials in its fulfillment and distribution network in California.

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The settlement resolves an investigation by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, and promises to end some of the secrecy surrounding the number of COVID cases at specific Amazon locations in California.

Bonta’s office said Amazon “failed to adequately inform warehouse workers and local health agencies about COVID-19 case numbers, often leaving them in the dark and effectively limiting the spread of the virus.” Unable to track properly.”

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Lack of data about cases in specific locations forced some workers to resort to tracking cases on their own,

But Amazon, which denied wrongdoing as part of the settlement agreement, downplayed the importance of the change. Amazon says it already notifies employees who have been in close contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, in addition to alerting local health officials to new cases.

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There is no indication that Amazon will voluntarily adopt the new practices nationally.

An Amazon spokesperson said the agreement with the attorney general resolves a technicality related to the structure of bulk notifications about new COVID cases under California law.

“We are delighted that this has been resolved and to see that AG has not found any real problems with the security measures in our buildings. We have worked since the beginning of the pandemic to keep our employees safe and deliver for our customers. worked hard for—spent more than $15 billion in costs to this day—and we will continue to do so in the months and years ahead,” said Barbara M., a senior public relations manager at Amazon operations. Agrit said in an emailed statement.

Under the agreement, Amazon agreed to notify employees and subcontractors about the number of new COVID-19 cases in their locations within 24 hours and to notify local health officials within 48 hours.

In addition, the agreement calls for Amazon to pay $500,000 to help enforce California consumer protection laws.

Bonta’s office called it in line with California’s “right-to-know” law, AB 685, saying the agreement would allow Amazon to “enforce harmful labor practices by hiding COVID-19 case numbers from workers and providing critical information on workplace safety.” cause to terminate.” , Written by Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes.

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