Amazon agreed to pay $500,000 to California's government and to change its workplace practices after allegedly failing to properly inform employees of COVID-19 cases in their workplaces. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Amazon will pay $500,000 in a settlement with California's attorney general's office, which alleges the company illegally withheld information from its workers about COVID-19 cases within the company.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta said Amazon violated California's "right-to-know" law, which requires companies to notify workers of COVID-19 cases at their worksite, by failing to notify warehouse workers and local health agencies of case numbers "often leaving them in the dark and unable to effectively track the spread of the virus."
"This led to workers not knowing if they had been exposed to two, 20, or even 200 cases of COVID-19," Bonta said during a press conference. "This left many workers understandably terrified and powerless to make informed decisions to protect themselves and to protect their loved ones."
In addition to paying $500,000 toward "further enforcement of California's consumer protection laws," Amazon also agreed to make changes to its workplace policies.
Under the agreement, Amazon must notify warehouse workers within one day of the exact number of new COVID-19 cases, adequately inform workers of disinfection and safety plans and employees' COVID-19 related rights, notify health agencies of COVID-19 cases within 48 hours to avoid potential outbreaks and submit to monitoring by the California attorney general's office regarding its COVID-19 notifications.
"Today's first-of-its-kind judgment will help ensure Amazon meets that requirement for its tens of thousands of warehouse workers across California," Bonta said. "Bottom line: Californians have a right to know about potential exposure to the coronavirus to protect themselves, their families and their communities."
In September, Amazon reached a settlement with former workers, Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, who were illegally fired for speaking out against the company's coronavirus response and environmental policies.