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.
California’s attorney general said workers had been left “terrified and powerless”.
The delivery giant will pay $500,000 (£370,000) but did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing the settlement.
Amazon said the law did not require it to share total numbers of cases with staff, but it had now started to do so.
It is the first application of the state’s “right to know” rules that require employers to keep staff notified.
The legislation requires firms to inform workers promptly of potential Covid exposures at their worksites, to tell them about pandemic-related protections, benefits, disinfection, and safety plans, and to report cases to local health agencies.
Amazon spokeswoman Barbara Grait said the company had not broken the law and had always notified workers of any exposure to cases of the virus and done contract tracing.
“The California law doesn’t specify we had to give numbers in those notifications,” she said. However, the firm was now providing that information within 24 hours for staff at its California sites.
It comes as Amazon is gearing up for the holiday season. US retail spending, including online, is already running higher than this time last year, despite supply chain problems and rising inflation.
However, rates of the virus are also expected to rise, as socialising moves indoors in the colder weather, and as families gather indoors for Thanksgiving.
Amazon has faced criticism through the course of the pandemic for its approach to protecting its workers.
“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.”
The agreement applies only to California, where Amazon employs around 150,000 workers, and must still be approved by a judge.
However, the firm has been criticised over its policies elsewhere and is also facing legal action in New York over safety at two of its fulfilment centres there.
Amazon said there was no change required to the way it notified its workers if they had been in close contact with a Covid case. The firm said the issue was around the structure of bulk employee Covid-related notifications.
“We’re glad to have this resolved and to see that the AG [Attorney General] found no substantive issues with the safety measures in our building,” said Ms Agrait.
“We’ve worked hard from the beginning of the pandemic to keep our employees safe and deliver for our customers – incurring more than $15bn in costs to date – and we’ll keep doing that in months and years ahead.”
- Black Stars’ Christian Atsu reportedly missing after earthquake in Turkey
- Haruna Iddrisu accepts changes in Minority leadership
- Turkey earthquakes: Christian Atsu found – Turkish media confirm
- ‘God, please’ – Asamoah Gyan prays for Christian Atsu, other celebs join
- Let’s continue to pray for Christian Atsu – Mahama to Ghanaians
- Muntaka accepts Minority leadership reshuffle after meeting with Mahama
- It is sad BoG unlawfully printed $3.3bn for government – IEA Director of Research
- Yul Edochie’s first wife threatens to sue actress over photoshopped image with Judy Austin
- Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital offers free treatment to former ‘NSMQ shark’
- 40 Ejuraman students injured in dining structure collapse
- GRA rolls out agenda for nurturing young officers
- Mr James Robert Atiapah
- Turkey earthquake: Survivors in streets as rain hampers rescue
- Turkey earthquake: “Huge and miraculous” – Christian Atsu’s local manager reacts to his rescue
- 5 SHS students fight for their lives after dining hall roofing collapsed on them
- Don’t behave like Finance Ministry is your personal property – Kpebu tells Ofori-Atta over nonpayment of matured coupons
- Glory to God – Social media users rejoice after Christian Atsu found alive
- Put hefty taxes on alcohol, cigarettes to generate funds money to fight cancer
- Total household spending falls by 11% in 2022 – UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce survey
- NDC to consider reforms for selecting leaders in Parliament – National Council of Elders
- We want to make VAR interventions more understandable for spectators – Pierluigi Collina
- 2022/23 betPawa PL: Mukwala nets brace as Kotoko run riot against Accra Lions
- Parliament resumes from recess today
- ‘You are free to sign DDEP is not the same as exemption’ – Dr Adu Anane Antwi
- Stonebwoy shares pictures of red carpet moments at 2023 Grammys