Amazon resolves California COVID worker notification dispute

The California Attorney General said on Monday that Amazon has agreed to pay $500,000 and is subject to monitoring by California officials to ensure that it correctly informs its employees of new coronavirus cases.

Amazon has approximately 150,000 employees in California, most of which are in 100 “fulfillment centers”-huge warehouses, where orders are packaged and shipped. The agreement must be approved by a judge, requiring the Seattle-based retailer to notify its workers within one day of a new coronavirus case in the workplace.

Amazon also agreed to notify local health agencies of new cases of the virus within 48 hours, and will stop issuing notices that Attorney General Robert Bonta said he did not adequately inform employees of Amazon’s safety and disinfection plan and workers’ rights related to the pandemic.

Bonta told reporters: “Because the company’s stock price has doubled and achieved booming historical sales, Amazon’s failure to adequately notify warehouse workers and local health agencies of the number of COVID-19 cases often prevents them from being effective. Track the spread of the virus.” At an event held across from the Amazon warehouse in San Francisco.

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Bonta added: “Understandably, this makes many workers feel scared and unable to make wise decisions to protect themselves and their loved ones,” such as being tested for the virus, staying at home, or quarantining after being notified of potential workplace exposure.

Amazon spokesperson Barbara Agrait (Barbara Agrait) said in a statement that the company is “happy to have resolved this issue and to see that AG has found that there are no substantial problems with the security measures in our buildings.”

Former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, now head of the US Department of Health and Human Services, asked a judge to order Amazon to comply with a subpoena issued by his office nearly four months ago as part of an investigation into how the company protects workers from abuse. Coronavirus in its facility.

The state attorney general’s office disclosed the investigation for the first time in a San Francisco Superior Court case filed in July 2020, in which an employee accused the company of not doing enough to protect employees.

It is not clear how many Amazon employees were exposed to the virus at work during the pandemic. In October 2020, the company disclosed that its nearly 20,000 front-line employees in the US had tested positive or were presumed to be infected.

The judgment only applies to California, requiring the company to allow the Attorney General’s Office to monitor its virus notifications for a year and pay a settlement of $500,000 to enforce the state’s consumer protection laws.

Bonta stated that the judgment is the first in the United States and is in line with the state’s “right to know” law that took effect last year. The regulations were signed on Friday, and the complaint and regulations were submitted to the Sacramento County Superior Court on Monday.

The California law, initiated by Eloise Gómez Reyes, the leader of the parliamentary majority party, requires employers to notify employees of coronavirus cases in their workplaces and tell workers about protection and benefits related to the epidemic , Disinfection and safety plans, and report cases to the local health agency.

Gómez Reyes said her bill was enacted after lawmakers heard that workers had not been told stories that they might have been exposed. She said that since then, many California companies have complied with the law, but some companies “discovered loopholes. They either did not comply with the law or they chose not to comply with the law.”

When the agreement is reached, Amazon is preparing for the holiday package delivery craze. Bonta said that as people gather indoors for the holidays, the state is preparing for a surge in winter cases that may reappear, so compliance is particularly important.

California this year also became the first state to ban large retailers from firing warehouse workers because they violated quotas that affect restrooms and rest time.

The law prohibits Amazon and similar companies from disciplinary actions against employees who comply with health and safety laws, and allows employees to file lawsuits to suspend unsafe quotas or retaliate against them.

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