On Tuesday, Amazon was hit with a fine from the California Attorney General’s Office for failing to inform its warehouse workers about risks posed to them by COVID-19.

“Amazon’s practices have led to workers not knowing if they were exposed to COVID-19. It understandably left workers terrified and powerless to make informed decisions,” Attorney General Rob Bonta said at a press conference announcing the decision. “That’s coming to an end.” 

According to Bonta, Amazon failed to notify its workers of the COVID-19 risks that they faced at work sites, make them aware of the company's strategy to protect them and the benefits or protections available for them. 

The fine represents the most prominent enforcement action of California's workplace outbreak notification law. Passed last year and going into effect on Jan. 1, the law requires employers to keep workers abreast of the COVID-19 risks they face as well as the protections in place to shield them from infection.

Under the plea agreement, Amazon is required to pay a $500,000 fine but is not required to admit any wrongdoing. Amazon's market value is approximately $2 trillion.

A spokeswoman for Amazon insisted that it did not break the law, arguing that California did not appear to require it to provide the information it is accused of withholding from workers. However, she insisted Amazon is now providing this information.

California has butted heads with Amazon throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The state has launched investigations into Amazon’s treatment of its warehouse workforce, which has been criticized for being overbearing and excessive.

California’s Senate has discussed passing a law that would require warehouse employers in the state to provide new data on work metrics used to monitor employees and ban unfair penalties levied against workers.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has previously acknowledged that the company could do better for its employees. Other warehouse employers and industry associations have opposed the law as overly broad, including the California Chamber of Commerce.