California is investigating concerns about COVID-19 safety at Amazon centers

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 30: Amazon employees hold a protest and walkout over conditions at the company's Staten Island distribution facility on March 30, 2020 in New York City. Workers at the facility, which has had numerous employees test positive for the coronavirus, want to call attention to what they say is a lack of protections for employees who continue to come to work amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 30: Amazon employees hold a protest and walkout over conditions at the company's Staten Island distribution facility on March 30, 2020 in New York City. Workers at the facility, which has had numerous employees test positive for the coronavirus, want to call attention to what they say is a lack of protections for employees who continue to come to work amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Taylor Hatmaker

According to a new court filing, multiple California state offices are actively investigating Amazon over worker safety concerns as the coronavirus continues to rage throughout the U.S.

In the filing, reported by Reuters, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman writes that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health and San Francisco's Department of Public Health have all opened investigations into the online retail giant's workplace practices in light of the pandemic. The attorney general's office declined to comment when reached by TechCrunch.


While Amazon faced frequent criticism for worker well-being before the pandemic, the ongoing crisis has made those concerns even more stark. With white-collar workers sent home, the virus has spread quickly through clusters of employees at factory floors and warehouses nationwide where social distancing isn't enforced. Amazon's own shipping centers have reported outbreaks, including one in the Pocono Mountains and another in Oregon, and by May eight Amazon warehouse workers had died from the virus.

The disclosure of the three California state investigations came out of a court case accusing Amazon of failing to adequately protect workers in a San Francisco Amazon Fresh Fulfillment Center. In the lawsuit, filed in March, Amazon Fresh worker Chiyomi Brent accuses the company of taking risks, including sharing the suits they wear into freezers without cleaning them after each use. Brent also filed a complaint with California's Division of Occupational Safety and Health, which is now looking into Amazon's distribution center practices.


More From

  • Google rolls out virtual visiting card in India

    Google has rolled out a new Search feature in India that enables influencers, entrepreneurs, freelancers, or anyone else who wants to be easily discovered online create a virtual visiting card in what appears to be the company's latest attempt to add more LinkedIn -esque functionalities into its search engine. The company said it has rolled out the feature, called people cards, first in India because of the special affinity people in the world's second largest internet market have shown toward looking up their own names on the search engine. Users can create people cards about themselves by signing into their Google account and then looking up their name on Google search.

  • Singapore's trade finance startup Incomlend raises $20M led by Sequoia Capital India

    Incomlend, a Singapore-headquartered startup that operates a trading platform to connect exporters and importers with investors, has raised $20 million in a new financing round, it said on Tuesday. Sequoia India, the India and SEA investment arm of the storied U.S. headquartered venture firm, led the Series A round in four-year-old Incomlend. The CMA CGM Group, one of the world’s largest shipping and logistics firms, also participated in the round.

  • Tencent wants to merge China's esports archrivals Douyu and Huya

    The war between two of China's largest esports companies may soon come to a truce at the will of their investor Tencent. Tencent, the world's biggest games publisher, announced late Monday a proposal to consolidate Douyu and Huya, the competing livestreaming sites focused on video games. The proposal is non-binding, but Tencent has paved the way for it to go through.

  • Shares of Uber, Lyft drift lower after California judge says that contract drivers are employees

    Shares of Uber and Lyft dipped modestly after a California judge granted a preliminary injunction that TechCrunch reports could force the two American ride-hailing companies to reclassify drivers as employees in the state. Lyft's stock is down a sharper 2.1%, though its shares rose during regular trading, making the impact of its after-hours declines smaller in aggregate. As TechCrunch noted in its coverage of the ruling, the costs associated with classifying current drivers as employees and not independent contractors could prove material.