Amazon has been sentenced to pay a $ 500,000 fine for hiding the number of COVID-19 cases at its California workplaces for employees. First reported by Los Angeles Times, the company agreed to pay the fine and improve the way it tracks cases and notifies workers and local health agencies. Amazon must also inform its California warehouse staff about the “exact number of new COVID-19 cases at their workplaces” when cases arise.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a press release that the punishment comes after a lawsuit filed against Amazon claimed that the company did not properly notify warehouse workers and local health agencies of new COVID-19 cases “often leaving them in the dark and unable to effectively trace the spread of the virus. “
This is the first fine related to California’s COVID “right to know” legislation (AB 685), which was passed last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. LA Times reported. By law, employers are required to alert workers who were potentially exposed to COVID-19 within a day and must also report COVID-19 case numbers to local health authorities within 48 hours if they “meet the definition of a COVID-19 outbreak. “
“As our nation continues to fight the pandemic, it is vital that companies do their part to protect workers now – and especially this holiday season,” Bonta said in the press release. “Californians have a right to know about potential coronavirus exposures to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.”
Amazon was criticized for its treatment of workers throughout the pandemic. Last March, warehouse workers in Michigan became angry when Amazon failed to notify them that their colleague had COVID-19, meanwhile, workers in New York staged work stoppages in response to Amazon’s handling of the pandemic. The company declined to say how many of its warehouse workers were sick across the country, eventually revealing a number in October 2020. As vaccines have become available to almost everyone, Amazon lifted mask mandates for vaccinated workers and plans to let company workers turn back to office in 2022.