TUSTIN, Calif. — Dozens of AT&T employees working at a Tustin call center have been hit by the novel coronavirus. Now politicians are getting involved.

U.S. Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45) has sent a letter to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeff McElfresh. 

“I am gravely concerned by what appears to be a lack of timely action to protect employees, an insufficient sick leave policy, and a refusal to answer basic questions about the handling of this outbreak,” Porter said in the letter.

She notes that 35 employees have been infected and alleges that one person died from the outbreak. 

What You Need To Know

  • U.S. Rep Katie Porter issued a letter to AT&T requesting more information about a COVID-19 outbreak

  • AT&T has more than 280,000 employees, including a call center in Tustin

  • A reported 35 employees were infected

  • Cases continue to spike in the U.S., with the Center for Disease Control reporting another 540,000 cases over the past week

The company has more than 280,000 employees. In 2019, AT&T pulled in $181 billion in revenue, making it the world’s largest telecommunications company.

Porter has developed a national profile from a series of viral videos in which she questions top CEOs. She can be seen scribbling down statistics on a dry erase board as she stumps them with questions. In just her first term, Porter has emerged on the national stage as a favorite of late night talk shows.

Fundraising dollars have flowed into her campaign, allowing her to outspend her opponent, Greg Raths, and donate to like-minded candidates across the country.

She has built a reputation among her supporters as a hawk on special interests. 

“Since March, the residential customer service units have been requesting a work-from-home option. These requests have been denied repeatedly,” the letter said.

Coronavirus rates in the United States continue to surge. 


The Center for Disease Control data tracker reports nearly 540,000 nationwide cases over the past week. And a recent study conducted by UC Irvine and the Orange County Health Care Agency suggests that 368,000 county residents have antibodies for the virus. If true, that means the county has had seven times more cases than previously thought.

Health officials have long warned of another wave of cases as fall and winter approach and flu season settles on the nation. Officials have called for increased care in social distancing, hygiene and have stressed the importance of obtaining a flu shot.

“AT&T also failed to take timely action to protect workers after the start of the outbreak. According to employees at the Tustin call center, the first two COVID cases were reported on Monday, October 19. Two more cases were reported on Tuesday, with a total of six cases reported by Wednesday morning. There were ten total cases by close of business Wednesday afternoon,” the letter said.

The letter goes on to say that AT&T did not properly inform employees of the outbreak and suggested it may be in violation of California state law.