Amazon settles with California over claims it concealed Covid-19 cases from warehouse workers
Amazon fulfillment center warehouse.
The company has agreed to notify warehouse workers within one day of new Covid cases, as well as provide the exact number of cases in their workplace, California State Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. Amazon employs tens of thousands of warehouse workers in the state, he added.
Under the agreement, which is still subject to court approval, Amazon will also notify local health agencies within 48 hours of new Covid cases and pay $500,000 toward additional enforcement of California consumer protection laws, Bonta said.
Amazon spokesperson Barbara Agrait said there’s no change to, nor allegations of any problems with, the company’s protocols related to notifying employees who may have been exposed to Covid.
“We’re glad to have this resolved and to see that the AG found no substantive issues with the safety measures in our buildings,” Agrait said in a statement.
The settlement comes after California in January enacted stricter Covid workplace regulations as part of Assembly Bill 685, or the “right-to-know” law. The regulations require businesses to report Covid cases to workers within one business day, among other stipulations.
Throughout the pandemic, Bonta said Amazon inadequately notified warehouse workers and local health agencies of Covid case numbers, “often leaving them in the dark and unable to effectively track the spread of the virus.”
Amazon sends notifications of new Covid cases to warehouse workers via its internal messaging portal, called A to Z, and works to determine if other employees came into contact with the person who tested positive by reviewing on site camera footage, as well as interviewing workers.
Last year, then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra opened a probe into Amazon’s treatment of warehouse workers during the pandemic.
California’s division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration also fined Amazon last October for coronavirus safety violations at two warehouses in the state. At one site, Amazon didn’t notify contracted delivery drivers of confirmed cases, the citation said.
Amazon said at the time that it believed its coronavirus safety measures were “more than adequate.”