SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- California Attorney General Rob Bonta on Monday announced a stipulated judgment requiring Amazon to end harmful labor practices that concealed COVID-19 case numbers from workers and pay $500,000.
The judgement will also require the company to provide key information on workplace protections in accordance with California's "right-to-know" law, Assembly Bill 685 (AB 685) authored by Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September.
The first-of-its-kind judgment requires Amazon to stop concealing COVID-19 case numbers from workers in addition to providing existing workplace protections information.
The complaint asserted that Amazon failed to adequately notify warehouse workers and local health agencies of COVID-19 case numbers, often leaving them in the dark and unable to effectively track the spread of the virus, according to the Attorney General's office.
"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-19 cases numbers often leading them unable to effectively to track the spread of the virus," Bonta said at a Monday morning press conference in San Francisco.
"Amazon's practices led to workers not knowing if they had been potentially exposed to two, 20 or even 200 cases of COVID 19," he added. "This left many workers understandably terrified and powerless to make informed decisions to protect themselves and their loved one."
As part of the stipulated judgment, Amazon will modify its COVID-19 notifications to workers and local health agencies, submit to monitoring regarding its COVID-19 notifications, and pay $500,000 toward further enforcement of California's consumer protection laws.
"AB 685 is an example of how we can come together when a problem emerges to protect workers and hold employers accountable," said Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes said in the release. "When this bill was being considered in the State Legislature and subsequent to it becoming law, we heard the stories from across this state of employees who were not informed of COVID-19 exposures and had to work in conditions where safety from this highly contagious disease was an afterthought."
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