Following its initial mandate that employees continue showing up to work amid a deadly health crisis, Charter Communications—the ISP giant that operates under the name Spectrum—is under investigation by the New York attorney general’s office over its treatment of employees during the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite recommendations by health authorities that non-essential employees switch to remote work and that individuals social distance, Charter instead kept its stores and call centers open in a move that put the health and safety of Spectrum employees at risk. The decision was condemned by employees who spoke with Gizmodo last month and argued that for many employees, their work could be done remotely. (Some employees were later permitted to work from home, though only under specific circumstances.)
A spokesperson for the New York attorney general’s office confirmed to Gizmodo on Tuesday that it has opened an inquiry into Charter’s labor practices and its handling of its workers during the covid-19 crises. The New York Times first reported the inquiry. Charter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Emails obtained by Gizmodo confirmed this week that Spectrum employees have tested positive for covid-19—the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus strain—and that the company’s response to these positive cases has been alarming. Citing a source familiar with the matter, the Times reported that more than 230 workers have tested positive for the disease, about half of whom performed their jobs in the company’s offices or call centers. The paper further reported that “at least” two field workers have died.
A spokesperson for the company told the Times that it had “dramatically reduced the number of employees going into the field or into the office while maintaining the efficacy of our business operations that is so critical to fighting this pandemic.”
Still, employees have for weeks expressed to the company’s management that the mandate that employees continue performing their jobs as they had been was dangerous. One senior employee at Charter told Gizmodo last month the decision resulted in “verbal confrontations” between management and workers. And more recently, many employees described a chaotic and inadequate response to positive cases among its workforce, in many cases potentially further exposing employees to coronavirus spread.