Amazon settles California case accusing it of concealing COVID cases from workers

Amazon will pay $500,000 as part of a settlement reached with California's attorney general who had accused the retail giant of illegally withholding information about COVID cases from its workers. 

Amazon workers were left in the dark about the prevalence of COVID cases at warehouses around the state throughout the pandemic, state Attorney General Rob Bonta said Monday morning in San Francisco. 

The company failed to share legally required information, Bonta said. 

"This led to workers not knowing if they had been exposed to two, 20, or even 200 cases of COVID-19," Bonta said. "This left many workers understandably terrified and powerless to make informed decisions to protect themselves and to protect their loved ones."

As part of the settlement, Amazon agrees to make changes in the ways that it notifies workers and local health authorities about COVID outbreaks. 

The company also agrees to monitoring by outside authorities. 

The $500,000 payment will go to the state.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said they were glad the matter is resolved. The company claimed they've incurred more than $15 billion in costs related to prioritizing employee health and safety. 

"We’re glad to have this resolved and to see that the AG found no substantive issues with the safety measures in our buildings," said Barbara Agrait for Amazon. "We’ve worked hard from the beginning of the pandemic to keep our employees safe and deliver for our customers."

The company's treatment of workers came into question earlier this month in another case.

The Federal Trade Commission said that Amazon had withheld millions of tips from Amazon Flex drivers. More than 140,000 Flex drivers, who are contractors rather than Amazon employees, will receive a portion of a $60-million settlement with the FTC.