California’s attorney general Xavier Becerra and local and state watchdogs are investigating whether Amazon has taken all the necessary safety measures to protect its workers from the coronavirus pandemic, a court filing revealed.
Chiyomi Brent, a picker in an Amazon grocery warehouse accused Jeff Bezos’ company of not doing enough to ensure its staff’s safety. According to her, Amazon did not provide enough sanitizing equipment and failed to secure social distancing.
Brent claimed that Amazon had put its workers at ”needless risk.” In his words, the employees had to share equipment such as freezer suits
However, a California state judge in San Francisco declined to temporarily shut down the warehouse, as requested by the picker. According to the judge, Brent had failed to prove the risk of imminent harm. The court transferred the case to the government investigators.
While the Amazon’s white-collar workers are working remotely, the virus has spread quickly through clusters of employees at factories and warehouses across the country due to lack of social distancing.
Amazon’s shipping centers reported outbreaks, including one in the Pocono Mountains and another one in Oregon. By May, eight Amazon warehouse workers lost their lives to the novel virus.
In April, New York Attorney General Letitia James sent a letter to the company stating that it may have violated safety standards and workplace practices during the pandemic.
The letter came out after Amazon terminated three opponents of the company’s pandemic response, and workers took part in a nationwide sick-out. The employees said that Amazon did not provide enough face masks for everyone, did not implement regular temperature checks and has declined to give workers paid sick leave.
Amazon has declined to announce publicly the numbers of the COVID-19 infections. However, the workers started tracking themselves using a tool from the advocacy group United for Respect. According to this data, there have been more than 80 reports of COVID-19 positive cases in California since March.
In a statement last month, an Amazon spokesperson said he was unaware of any COVID-19 positive cases at the California facility. In addition to that, the company argued in court papers that it had taken all the prescribed government measures to combat the virus, including disinfection, face masks, and social distancing.
What do you think? Do you believe Amazon’s statement that it had done everything to protect its workers from the novel virus?