California urges court to compel Amazon to comply with coronavirus probe


(Reuters) -California Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Monday petitioned a court to force Inc to comply with outstanding subpoenas over a state investigation into its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The petition, filed with the Sacramento County Superior Court, accused Amazon of failing to adequately follow the state’s information requests as part of an investigation into the company’s coronavirus protocols and status of COVID-19 cases at its California facilities.

“Amazon has delayed responding adequately to our investigative requests long enough,” Becerra, President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to serve as U.S. secretary of health and human services, said in the petition.

The subpoenas seek information about Amazon’s sick-leave policies, sanitation measures and data about the spread of the virus at the company’s California warehouses, the petition said.

Jodi Seth, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in a statement the company has been cooperating with Becerra’s office for months.

“We’re puzzled by the attorney general’s sudden rush to court. … Their claims of noncompliance with their demands don’t line up with the facts,” Seth said.

Seth said the company has invested heavily in on-site testing for employees and personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

The attorney general’s investigation into Amazon dates to the spring of this year, when news about working conditions at Amazon’s in-state facilities raised concern, according to the petition.

The Guardian reported in May that Amazon had denied some requests for paid sick leave that worker activists alleged violated a California law giving two weeks’ time to staff at facilities where food is stored, like Amazon’s. The pro-worker group IE Amazonians Unite said it contacted state officials on the matter and that ultimately Amazon notified personnel about the paid leave opportunity.

Amazon has said it complied with state law. More than 19,000 of its U.S. staff have contracted COVID-19, Amazon said in October.

Reporting by David Shepardson, Nandita Bose and Jeffrey Dastin; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Richard Chang and Will Dunham


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