California probes Amazon over worker safety concerns amid COVID-19

Amazon logo is seen in front of displayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in this illustration taken 19 March 2020.
Amazon logo is seen in front of displayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in this illustration taken 19 March 2020.Reuters

Multiple government authorities in California have opened investigations into concerns over safety measures put in place at Amazon centres to protect its workers from COVID-19, the media reported, citing a court filing.

Amazon’s workplace practices are being probed by California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health, according to the court filing on Monday by San Francisco superior court judge Ethan Schulman, The Guardian reported.

The filing follows a case brought by a worker at Amazon’s San Francisco warehouse who accused the company of not putting in place adequate measures to protect the employees.

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In a lawsuit filed on 11 June, the Amazon worker, Chiyomi Brent, alleged that the online retail giant put workers at “needless risk” as they were required to share certain equipment and were also not allowed extra time to maintain social distancing measures.

The San Francisco superior court judge, however, did not issue a preliminary injunction on Monday.

Saying that the Amazon worker could not demonstrate immediate harm, Schulman added that the California state authorities were better suited to address the concerns of Brent.

Over the past few months, Amazon has announced several new measures aimed at keeping its workers safe. However, the company has also faced criticism from former and current employees regarding its safety measures.