Amazon is in deep water with the state of California. According to the BBC, the online retail giant is being made to pay out a $500,000 fine to the state of California. Amazon incurred that fine as a result of violating California’s “right to know” policy by failing to inform their warehouse workers of the number of reported employee COVID-19 cases.
Speaking on behalf of the warehouse workers, California’s attorney general stated that because Amazon’s employees were being kept in the dark that they were both “terrified and powerless.” Under California legislation this is unacceptable. The “right to know” policy dictates that Amazon should have been completely transparent with its employees from the beginning and should have been regularly informing them of the case count as well as providing workplace personal protective equipment, offering infected employees additional benefits, and taking every step necessary to make sure its warehouses were adequately disinfected.
Amazon spokeswoman Barbara Grait fired back against the state legislature by stating that “The California law doesn’t specify we had to give numbers in those notifications.” However, regardless of Amazon’s opinion on the matter, the company has since complied with the “right to know” policy and has begun providing its employees with access to case numbers as soon as 24 hours after a reported infection.
Moreover, Amazon is no stranger to facing criticism from its employees. Earlier this year CNBC posted a video to Youtube that detailed the harsh and stringent conditions that Amazon delivery drivers have to endure. The most appalling revelation to come out of CNBC’s investigation was that many drivers are left with no other option than to relieve themselves in plastic bottles because their schedule is so busy that they can’t even take time out to use the restroom. Amazon initially denied the allegations, but later relented and apologized for initially dismissing the employee accounts.
In addition to the appalling conditions that its delivery drivers were subjected to working under, concerning issues with Amazon’s payroll also came to light in recent months. After many employees filed a slew of complaints about not receiving their correct pay, Amazon launched an internal investigation that revealed systemic problems within its outdated payroll system. The payroll problems imposed heavy implications for many of its employees. In one man’s case, issues with payroll unfairly caused him to lose his job which resulted in the individual having to foreclose on his house. For a company whose profit margins are seismic in their portions, it is more than fair to say that instances such as that should not be happening.
Amid all the criticism, Amazon is still leading the pack in terms of profit and growth. The online retailer is planning to add upwards of 150,000 workers to its roster for the holiday season and due to prevailing widespread labor shortages is also offering appealing incentives in order to reach its ambitious hiring goals. Founder and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has also expressed that the company fully intends (and should) to do better by their employees going forward and has taken steps to make sure that, that successfully happens.