COVID: California investigates Amazon’s health practices and takes legal action

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Los Angeles | California has taken court action to compel Amazon to cooperate in the investigation opened in that state into the health practices of the e-commerce giant and the measures implemented to protect its employees from the CoVID-19 pandemic.

“Amazon has made billions of dollars during this pandemic by relying on the work of essential employees. Its employees are doing their job while exposing themselves to risks, ”California attorney Xavier Becerra said in a statement Monday. “It is crucial to know whether these employees benefit in their work from the protections granted to them by the law,” he insists.

The services of Mr. Becerra opened last August an investigation into the health measures implemented by Amazon for its employees as well as the number and location of cases of COVID-19 identified in the various Californian sites of the company. But the prosecutor says they did not receive a satisfactory response to the subpoenas sent to Amazon, so he seized a judge in Sacramento on Monday to force the firm of billionaire Jeff Bezos to comply.

“If Amazon can deliver an 85-inch (216 cm) television overnight overnight, it should be able to provide the justice department with the simple information we officially requested four months ago,” Becerra said. of a press briefing.

The California investigation aims in particular to find out which Amazon sites have been most affected by cases of coronavirus, how many employees have complained about their working conditions and whether any of them have been the victims of retaliatory measures, a explained the prosecutor.

“We are very surprised to see the prosecutor rush so suddenly to court because we have been collaborating for months and these allegations of non-cooperation with his requests do not reflect reality,” responded a spokesman for Amazon, requested by the ‘AFP.

“We are at the forefront of security measures against COVID-19 for our employees; we have invested in billions of dollars in equipment and technology, including internal site testing and protective equipment, ”the firm added.

NGOs and unions have regularly criticized the working conditions in Amazon warehouses since the start of the pandemic and a demonstration was even organized in October near a villa of Jeff Bezos in Beverly Hills, near Los Angeles.

Amazon is one of the companies that has benefited the most financially from the pandemic in the world. Its share price has risen 72% year-to-date, and third-quarter revenue soared 37% to $ 96 billion.

In California, more than 1.4 million people have contracted COVID-19 and nearly 21,000 have died from it.

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