California orders Amazon to pay $500,000 over concealed COVID cases claim

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday that the state has ordered Amazon to pay $500,000 for “hiding COVID-19 case numbers” from workers.

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why it matters: The court’s ruling is the first of its kind under California’s new “right to know” law that aims to strengthen worker safety by requiring employers to disclose coronavirus cases to employees and local health agencies, among other provisions. .

description: Bonta’s office said, “Amazon failed to adequately inform warehouse workers and local health agencies about COVID-19 case numbers, which often leaves them in the dark and the spread of the virus.” unable to track effectively. in a statement,

  • Amazon will revise its COVID notification system, submit it to regulatory oversight and pay $500,000 to further enforce state consumer protection laws.
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What are they saying: “The people of California have a right to be aware of potential exposure to the coronavirus to protect themselves, their families, and their communities,” Bonta said in the statement.

  • “This decision sends a clear message that businesses must abide by this important law. It helps protect us all.”

On the other end: An Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement that the firm was pleased to resolve the matter “and to see that AG did not find any significant problems with the security measures in our buildings.”

  • “This agreement is solely about technicalities specific to California state law surrounding the structuring of information related to wholesale employee COVID,” the spokesperson said.
  • “There is no allegation of any change or any problem in our protocol for notifying employees who have been in close contact with the affected person.”

“We have worked hard since the start of the pandemic to keep our employees safe and deliver for our customers – over $15 billion in costs to date – and we will continue to do so in the months and years to come. “

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-Amazon spokesperson

big picture: Amazon has faced complaints and criticism about the safety of workers during the pandemic.

  • Last year, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health fined Amazon $1,870 for violations related to working conditions at delivery and fulfillment centers, According to the Los Angeles Times,
  • Javier Becerra, then California’s attorney general, also launched an investigation into whether Amazon was doing enough to reduce the risk of infection among workers, The Washington Post reported last year,
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit against Amazon in February alleging non-compliance with workplace rules.

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