Attorney General Becerra Sues Amazon Over COVID-19 Safety Investigation
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a lawsuit in the Sacramento County Superior Court asking the court to “order the e-commerce giant to comply with outstanding investigative subpoenas from the California Department of Justice,” reported Cal Matters.
Worker Infections and Death
Becerra accused Amazon of slowing down his investigation with stalling tactics. According to Becerra, Amazon has failed to adequately respond to investigative summons, issued back on August 19th. Prosecutors have demanded Amazon provide details about its COVID-19 prevention efforts, including cleaning procedures, sick leave policies, as well as information about California employee infections and deaths.
At a press conference, Becerra said, “We’re investigating because we got reports, information, complaints about conditions (and) incidents,” that were credible. He went on to say, “We believe that it merits looking into Amazon’s protocols.”
Amazon Denies It
Of course, the e-commerce giant has denied accusations of failing to cooperate. But if a judge approves Becerra’s petition, Amazon could face penalties for delaying the investigation.
In response to the allegations, an Amazon spokesperson has said, “We’re puzzled by the attorney general’s sudden rush to court because we’ve been working cooperatively for months and their claims of noncompliance with their demands don’t line up with the facts.”
Reports of workers not wearing masks and the lack of social distancing, case notification and sanitation has led some workers to try and create their own counts based on the limited company notifications they receive about new COVID-19 cases.
An Amazon spokesperson has said, “We utilize a variety of data to closely monitor the safety of our buildings, and there is strong evidence that our employees are not proliferating the virus at work.”
Implications for Vaccine Distribution
Becerra has argued that Amazon’s lack of transparency could hinder vaccine distribution to its workers. “Depending on…the information we may not be getting, certainly that could impact the way our government — our state government or local governments — proceed with the distribution of the vaccine.”