A group of Amazon warehouse workers is celebrating after California Cartage Co. and the staffing companies agreed to pay up to $1.9 million to resolve the worker’s allegations of wage-and-hour violations and retaliation.
When many people think of Amazon, they think of Amazon Prime and online shopping. Few people think about wage-and-hour violations and retaliation allegations, but that’s exactly what a group of warehouse workers claimed happened to them in a class action lawsuit they filed against an Amazon contractor, California Cartage Co., and several staffing companies in 2014. Fortunately for the group of workers, California Cartage Co. and the staffing companies agreed to pay up to $1.9 million to resolve the worker’s allegations of wage-and-hour violations and retaliation.
According to the workers, the retaliation and wage-and-hour violations they experienced occurred at a “Los Angeles-owned storage facility that houses Amazon.com products, among others.” In their lawsuit, the workers claimed California Cartage Co. and the staffing firms “violated the state’s minimum wage law and the city’s ‘living wage’ statute.” Additionally, the workers argued that the “defendants didn’t give employees time to rest during periods of excessive heat, and retaliated against those who complained.”
While not named as a defendant in this recently settled case, this isn’t the first time Amazon.com Inc. has been at the center of wage-and-hour allegations and other violations. In recent years workers have stepped forward with allegations that the “online giant used contractors that skirted regulations to cut costs.” For example, non-profit China Labor Watch released a report earlier this month alleging “inadequate safety training and precautions at a Chinese factory owned by Foxconn, which produces Amazon’s Echo speakers and Kindle e-readers.” Amazon pushed back against the allegations in the report, claiming it had “audited the factory and asked Foxconn to remedy violations.”
In 2014, Amazon warehouse employees filed a lawsuit seeking “pay for time spent waiting in line for security checks.” In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled “in favor of Amazon contractor Integrity Staffing Solutions, overturning a lower court ruling” that would have ruled in favor of the workers. Then, in 2016 another lawsuit was filed by former delivery drivers against Amazon contractor Silverstar alleging “ they were deprived of overtime pay and that Amazon shared legal responsibility due to the extent of Amazon’s involvement in evaluating and directing their work.” Eventually, that case reached a settlement. There are many other cases that are ongoing in states like California, Arizona, and Nevada that involve “either Amazon, its contractors or both.” In all cases, Amazon has continuously denied any wrongdoing.
In the Los Angeles case that recently settled, while some of the claims brought forward by the workers were tossed by a judge in 2016, a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled earlier this year that “California Cartage had illegally interrogated employees about their efforts to address workplace issues at the facility and made implied threats to employees about the consequences of taking collective action.”
So far the plaintiffs and defendants have declined to comment on the nearly $1.9 million pending settlement. A hearing is scheduled for October 25 for a final approval of the settlement.