Amazon Faces Legal Storm as 15,000 Drivers Demand Justice

An arbitration claim against Amazon representing 15,000 drivers has been filed this week, which could change how the e-commerce giant classifies its workers.

Arbitration Against Amazon

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More than 15,000 drivers contracted with Amazon Flex have collectively filed arbitration claims against the company on Tuesday, claiming that their job positions have been misclassified.

Misclassified Contractors

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Lawyers representing the case confirm that the drivers believe they have been incorrectly classified as independent contractors on Amazon records rather than employees.

Avoiding Extra Pay and Compensation

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By classifying these drivers as independent contractors, Amazon has been able to skirt the extra wages, benefits, overtime pay, and expense reimbursements that they would be entitled to as full-time employees.

American Arbitration Association Involved

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The arbitration claims have been submitted to the American Arbitration Association in California, Illinois, and Massachusetts, claiming that the drivers should be reclassified as workers under the law.

450 Filed in the Past

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This is the second batch of Amazon drivers who have filed arbitration claims, with another 450 filing similar claims with the AAA.

Laws Are “Very Clear”

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Attorney Steven Tindall, one of the lawyers representing the case, told reporters that employee misclassification laws are “very clear” in cases like these.

Amazon Flex Drivers

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These drivers work for Amazon Flex, a package delivery program similar to companies like Lyft and Uber. In the case of Flex, drivers can sign up to deliver packages in their area as independent contractors.

Full-time Schedules Without Full-time Benefits

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But now, drivers claim that they are working full-time schedules for Amazon without any of the major benefits that being an employee entails. 

Pre-Determined “Blocks”

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A lawyer’s statement points to the pre-determined “block” of time that each driver is given to complete a delivery. Flex drivers must choose a block of time before they complete the delivery, and they are only paid based on that pre-selected time regardless of how long it actually takes.

Only Paid for Specific Blocks of Time

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So if a driver selects a three-hour block, but the delivery takes an extra hour due to no fault of their own, they will still only be paid for three hours of work.

Does Not Account for All Hours Worked

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While the Amazon official website claims that Flex drivers earn between $18 and $25 per hour, this does not account for the extra unpaid hours that many drivers have to work due to longer-than-expected delivery times.

Work-Related Expenses Not Reimbursed

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It also does not account for the work-related expenses that Flex drivers must pay. These unavoidable expenses, such as mileage and cellphone usage, take a significant amount out of their monthly pay.

More Grievances

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The complaint also includes several other grievances, including the fact that Amazon did not provide drivers with paid 10-minute rest breaks for deliveries that take more than 3.5 hours to complete.

Most Finish Early

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Amazon representatives responded to this claim in particular, telling reporters that “the majority of Amazon Flex delivery partners finish their delivery blocks early,” and that rest breaks were largely unnecessary. 

Lack of Meal Breaks and Wage Statements

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Grievances also included a lack of 30-minute meal breaks for drivers working more than 5 hours per day and another claim that Amazon had failed to provide drivers with itemized wage statements for California drivers, which is a violation of state law. 

Why Arbitration?

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Some have questioned why the drivers filed arbitration claims rather than a class-action lawsuit. Tindall confirmed that drivers were made to sign contracts forbidding class action when they first began working for Amazon.

Limiting the Pursuit of Justice

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“Arbitration, unfortunately, limits the drivers’ pursuit of justice,” he explained. “So, we’re left with little choice but to file almost 16,000 individual arbitration actions at once.”

Amazon Responds

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Amazon spokesperson Branden Baribeau has responded to the case, telling reporters that “The Amazon Flex program gives individuals the opportunity to set their own schedule and be their own boss while earning competitive pay.”

“We’re Proud of the Work”

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“We hear from most of the Amazon Flex delivery partners that they love the flexibility of the program,” he continued, “And we’re proud of the work they do on behalf of customers every day.”

One Week After UK Lawsuit

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The case comes less than a week after a billion-dollar lawsuit was filed against Amazon in the UK over claims the company misused retail data and used the Amazon Buy Box feature to prioritize its products over others.

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The post Amazon Faces Legal Storm as 15,000 Drivers Demand Justice first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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