California Asks Court To Force Amazon To Comply With Coronavirus Probe

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Attorney General asks court to force Amazon to co-operate with state investigation into its handling of Covid-19 pandemic

Amazon is facing legal pressure in California over its role dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic within its facilities in the US state.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra this week has petitioned a court to force the e-commerce giant to comply with outstanding subpoenas over a state investigation, Reuters reported.

The petition was filed with the Sacramento County Superior Court, and it reportedly accuses Amazon of failing to adequately follow the state’s information requests as part of California’s investigation into its protocols and status of Covid-19 cases at its California facilities.

Californian investigation

California’s investigation of Amazon reportedly began in the Spring of 2020, when media reports surfaced about alleged working conditions at Amazon’s in-state facilities.

“Amazon has delayed responding adequately to our investigative requests long enough,” Becerra reportedly said in the petition.

Becerra is currently the California Attorney General, but he has been selected President-elect Joe Biden’s to serve as US secretary of health and human services, adding a potential political angle for the firm down the line.

It is reported that California is seeking data about Amazon’s sick-leave policies, sanitation measures and data about the spread of the virus at the company’s California warehouses.

But Amazon has said the company has been cooperating with Becerra’s office for months.

“We’re puzzled by the attorney general’s sudden rush to court,” Jodi Seth, an Amazon spokeswoman was quoted as saying. “Their claims of noncompliance with their demands don’t line up with the facts.”

Seth said the company has invested heavily in on-site testing for employees and personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

Pandemic response

There is no doubt that the pandemic resulted in a boom for Amazon’s business, with many households around the world forced into lockdowns.

But that came at a price, despite Amazon’s protection measures.

For example, Amazon built its own Coronavirus testing labs to monitor the health of its staff back in April, when the pandemic was raging around the world.

But in October the firm revealed that nearly 20,000 staff have been infected by Covid-19, despite undertaking a large number of steps to protect its workforce during the pandemic.

This included Amazon taking the temperature of staff upon their arrival at work and spraying disinfectant on work stations.

Yet criticism has persisted, particularly about cleanliness in warehouses, and working conditions.

It should be noted that Amazon has already successfully fended off allegations over the alleged lack of Covid-19 protections.

In early November a staff lawsuit against Amazon over its alleged lack of Coronavirus protection for warehouse workers at the Staten Island facility was dismissed by a US District Judge in New York.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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