Amazon fulfillment center warehouse.
Amazon reached a settlement Monday with the California Attorney General over claims it was hiding Covid-19 case numbers from its warehouse workers.
The company has agreed to notify warehouse workers of new Covid cases within one day and provide the exact number of cases at their workplace, California State Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. Amazon has tens of thousands of warehouse workers in the state, he added.
Under the agreement, which has yet to be approved by the court, Amazon will also notify local health authorities of new Covid cases within 48 hours and pay $500,000 for additional enforcement of California’s consumer protection laws, Bonta said.
Amazon spokesperson Barbara Agrait said there has been no change in, or allegations of problems with, the company’s protocols regarding notifying employees who may have been exposed to Covid.
“We are pleased that this has been resolved and that the AG has not found any substantive issues with the security measures in our buildings,” Agrait said in a statement.
The settlement comes after California passed stricter Covid work regulations in January as part of Assembly Bill 685, or the “right-to-know” law. The regulations require companies, among other things, to report Covid cases to employees within one working day.
During the pandemic, Bonta said Amazon had not adequately informed warehouse workers and local health authorities about the numbers of Covid cases, “often leaving them in the dark and unable to effectively monitor the spread of the virus.”
Amazon sends reports of new Covid cases to warehouse workers through its internal messaging portal, called A to Z, and is working to determine if other employees have come into contact with the person who tested positive by reviewing on-site CCTV footage and interviewing employees.
Warehouse and delivery workers have previously criticized Amazon’s contact tracing and case reporting protocols, claiming they were inadequate.
Last year, then-California Attorney General Xavier Becerra opened an investigation into Amazon’s treatment of warehouse workers during the pandemic.
The California division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration also fined Amazon last October for coronavirus safety violations at two warehouses in the state. On one site, Amazon has failed to notify contracted deliverers of confirmed cases, the quote said.
Amazon said at the time it believed the coronavirus precautions were “more than adequate”.
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