California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a petition with Sacramento County Superior Court on Monday requesting that the court order Amazon to comply with "outstanding investigative subpoenas" related to an ongoing investigation into the company's workplace conditions.
The petition alleges that Amazon has failed to adequately comply with lawful requests from the state regarding information and documents related to the company's coronavirus protocols, including examination of its sick leave policy and cleaning procedures, as well as raw data on the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths at Amazon facilities across California.
“Amazon has made billions during this pandemic relying on the labor of essential workers. Their workers get the job done while putting themselves at risk,” Attorney General Becerra said in a statement. “It’s critical to know if these workers are receiving the protections on the job that they are entitled to under the law. Time is of the essence. Amazon has delayed responding adequately to our investigative requests long enough. We’re seeking a court order to compel Amazon to comply fully with our investigative subpoenas.”
The Attorney General's office noted that the investigation is ongoing and that no determinations have been made regarding Amazon's coronavirus protocols due to the company's "limited responsiveness."
In addition, the retail giant faces a lawsuit from former employee Christian Smalls, who Amazon claims was fired for putting the health and safety of others at risk and violating his terms of employment after an organized walkout on March 30 in which approximately 60 people demanded that Amazon's JFK8 Staten Island facility shut down for deep cleaning and sanitization after colleagues tested positive. New York Attorney General Letitita James has also launched an investigation into Amazon's workplace conditions, which Smalls has cooperated with.
An Amazon spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement that the online retailer is "puzzled by the Attorney General’s sudden rush to court," noting that Amazon has been working cooperatively with the state for months, and that claims of noncompliance "don't line up with the facts."
"The bottom line is that we’re a leader in providing COVID-19 safety measures for our employees – we’ve invested billions of dollars in equipment and technology, including building on-site testing for employees and providing personal protective equipment," the spokesperson said. "We encourage anyone to compare our speed and actions in this area to any other major employer."
Amazon said in blog post that it expects to invest approximately $10 billion by the end of 2020 on COVID-19-related initiatives to keep employees safe and get products to customers, including $500 million in special holiday bonuses to front-line employees for their continued hard work during the pandemic.
Amazon disclosed in October that nearly 20,000 of its front-line U.S. employees tested positive or were presumed positive for the coronavirus. However, the company argued that the infection rates among its employees were well below the cases found within the U.S. general population.
According to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University, the United States has surpassed more than 16.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 300,000 related deaths. California recorded more than 33,000 new coronavirus cases and 77 deaths on Sunday, bringing the state's totals to more than 1.5 million cases and more than 21,000 deaths. As of Sunday, at least 14,578 patients have been hospitalized due to COVID-19.