Amazon Agrees to Better Inform Californian Workers About COVID-19

Allen Smith, J.D. By Allen Smith, J.D. November 18, 2021
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An Amazon facility

​Amazon has agreed to modify its COVID-19 notifications to workers and local health agencies and pay $500,000 to help enforce California's consumer protection laws, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Nov. 15. We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Judgment Under California's 'Right-to-Know' Law

The judgment, which is subject to court approval, is the first of its kind nationwide. It's in keeping with California's "right-to-know" law that was designed to keep workers safe during the pandemic. Under the arrangement, Amazon must tell its warehouse workers in California within a day about the exact number of new COVID-19 cases in its workplaces. The company also must ensure that notifications adequately inform Californian workers of the company's disinfection and safety plans, tell health officials about new cases, and submit to monitoring of its notifications by the attorney general's office.

(The New York Times)

Businesses Urged to 'Do Their Part'

"As our nation continues to battle the pandemic, it is absolutely critical that businesses do their part to protect workers now—and especially during this holiday season," Bonta said in a statement. "That's why California law requires employers to notify workers of potential workplace exposures and to report outbreaks to local health agencies."

(ABC News)

Amazon's Statement

Amazon issued a statement through a spokesperson saying there were no allegations that the company had failed to notify employees who had been in direct contact with an infected person. The statement said the company is glad Bonta "found no substantive issues with the safety measures in our buildings."

(Newser)

Company's Mask Requirement Dropped

On its own, Amazon has dropped its requirement that vaccinated warehouse workers wear masks, unless required to do so by local rules. The company doesn't require vaccination, but it uses raffles and other incentives to encourage employees to get vaccinated. California is home to more Amazon employees than any other state. The company had more than 153,000 workers there at the end of last year.

(Bloomberg via Los Angeles Daily News)

Amazon and New York Officials Take COVID-19 Safety Dispute to Court

Earlier this year, Amazon filed a COVID-19-related lawsuit arguing that the New York attorney general's office exceeded its authority to regulate workplace safety issues during the pandemic. Soon thereafter, the state attorney general filed suit against the company alleging that the online retail giant violated New York state labor law.

(SHRM Online)

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