Categories: World
| On 2 weeks ago

Amazon to pay $500,000 for not disclosing Covid-19 data

By Aswin Kumar

Amazon has reached a legal settlement in California over claims it failed to adequately inform its warehouse workers about Covid-19 cases in the workplace.

The Attorney General of California said the workers were “terrified and powerless.” The shipping giant will pay $500,000 (£370,000), however did now no longer admit wrongdoing in agreeing the settlement.

In response, Amazon said it had begun sharing the total number of cases with employees, even though it wasn’t required to.

First application of the state’s “right to know” rules requiring employers to notify their employees.

In addition, the legislation requires firms to notify workers of potential Covid exposures at their work sites, inform them about pandemic-related protections, benefits, disinfection and safety plans, and to notify local health agencies about cases.

Barbara Grait, Amazon’s spokeswoman, said the company had not broken the law, and had always notified workers about exposure to the virus and tracked contracting.

According to Grait, “The California law doesn’t specify we had to give numbers in those notifications,” but the firm now provides that information within 24 hours to its California-based employees.

The news comes as Amazon is preparing to launch its holiday offerings. Despite supply chain complications and rising inflation, online retail spending in the US is already ahead of last year’s levels.

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Throughout the course of the pandemic, Amazon has been criticized for its approach to worker protection.

“As the company enjoyed booming and historic sales with its stock price doubling, Amazon failed to adequately notify warehouse workers and local health agencies of Covid case numbers, often leaving them unable to effectively track the spread of the virus,” California’s attorney general Rob Bonta said.

“This left many workers understandably terrified and powerless to make informed decisions to protect themselves and to protect their loved ones.”

Amazon’s agreement applies only to California, where it employs around 150,000 workers. A judge must still approve it.

Despite this, the company faces legal action in New York over safety at two of its fulfillment centers and has been criticized over its policies elsewhere.

Amazon said it did not need to change the way it notified employees if they were involved in a Covid case. The concern was with the ways in which covid-related bulk employee notifications were sent.

“We’re glad to have this resolved and to see that the Attorney General found no substantive issues with the safety measures in our building,” said Ms grait.

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Aswin Kumar

A creative science nerd! Buy me a coffee: buymeacoffee.com/aswinkumar

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