Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

California Investigating Amazon's Treatment of Workers During Coronavirus Pandemic

By Eric Volkman – Jul 27, 2020 at 7:47PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The probes stem from a lawsuit brought by an employee at the retailer's San Francisco fulfillment center.

Multiple branches of California's state and local governments are looking into allegations that (AMZN -1.09%) mistreated its employees during the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to several media outlets on Monday that cited a court filing.

In the filing from San Francisco Superior Court, Judge Ethan Schulman wrote that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, San Francisco's Department of Public Health, and the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health have all launched probes of the company. These center around the online retailer's health and safety protection measures -- or lack thereof.

An Amazon employee picking goods from a cart in a warehouse.

Image source:

The investigations derive from a lawsuit brought on June 11 by Chiyomi Brent, an employee at the company's San Francisco fulfillment center. She alleged that a number of unsafe practices, such as equipment sharing and a lack of social distancing, have placed Amazon workers at "needless risk."

Judge Schulman refused to issue a preliminary injunction to close the warehouse, stating that Brent did not sufficiently demonstrate risk of imminent harm. He added that it was preferable for public sector agencies to investigate the allegations.

Amazon has not publicly addressed these latest developments. Last week, the company wrote on its Day One blog that "[o]ur top concern is ensuring the health and safety of our employees, and we expect to invest approximately $4 billion on COVID-related initiatives getting products to customers and keeping employees safe."

Despite the negative press, Amazon shares closed 1.5% higher on Monday, beating the gains of the top stock indexes and many fellow consumer goods titles.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.