Amazon Agrees To Pay Rs 62 Crore To Truck Drivers For Denying Overtime, Breaks

Washington court ordered Amazon to pay $8.2 Mil to delivery drivers who were denied overtime and breaks.

Amazon’s sordid saga of employee exploitation continues as a recent ruling in a class-action lawsuit filed in Washington has awarded complainants with $ 8.2 million by virtue of winning the case. 

In a manic rush to fulfil one-day delivery for as many locations as possible, Amazon has a notorious history of the “work” conditions it employs its logistic partners under. 

The Lawsuit

First filed by 2 Amazon delivery drivers in 2017,  Gus Ortiz and Mark Fredley, it was alleged that Amazon broke the law by not paying minimum wage and for denying overtime compensation and breaks (including bathroom breaks which forced many to relieve themselves in bottles) . 

These employees had to work under intense pressure of an abnormal amount of packages per day. 

For perspective, if one had the target of 250 packages a day, they would have only 2 minutes (or less) to deliver a single package before they can move on to the next one (assuming a standard 8-hour shift).

The Judgment

Those eligible for the payout will receive so based on the duration of their employment. 

The judgment was made observing that legally employers have to pay overtime if the employee has worked in excess of 40 hours a week. 

Payment of minimum hourly wage is a must.

Disturbing Consequences of Demanding Delivery Challenges

In one event that took place in late 2016, a delivery driver accidentally collided with an elderly woman, causing her death. 

The delivery person was in a frantic rush to complete his package target. 

When the family of the deceased tried to sue Amazon and its delivery partner company, Amazon had this to say- “The damages, if any, were caused, in whole or in part, by third parties not under the direction or control of Amazon.com.”

Car collisions have also been reported in which the driver either could not see through his windshield since view was obstructed by packages lined along the dashboard.

The driver did this due to lack of storage space as the vehicle was already at max capacity for packages. 

Speeding drivers in a rush to complete deliveries have also caused accidents and injuries.

History of Allegations Circumvented by Shifting Blame

Amazon does not directly employ delivery persons but rather contracts them from a variety of delivery and logistics companies which reduces the megacorporation’s labor costs and shields them from legal liability.

In light of this, a California law has been passed that prevented the likes of Amazon from placing the blame on the contracted companies. Amazon would hypothetically be held liable for labor violations.

The ruling stated that just because one is not a direct employer, it does not give them the right to deny legal compensation

The Plight of Delivery Drivers

Amazon imposes an exorbitant target of 150-200 deliveries per day (and to say nothing of the target during holiday seasons) which had delivery drivers putting in extra hours (over and above a 10-hour shift) and skipping rest and meal breaks. 

These drivers employed under these third-party logistics companies were never compensated for these labor code violations. 

Amazon has a history of anti-union actions in which it curtails its employees’ freedom to discuss labor protection measures with each other and quashing unionization efforts through terminations.

Speeding and avoiding wearing seatbelts would be encouraged to complete deliveries on time.

The workers would be paid a flat fee fixed for the day. So on the days where a worker would be out on the road for much longer, Amazon would squeeze margins since the flat fee is not flexible to account for more hours put in. 

Attrition

It is not uncommon to have workers quit in the middle of the shift and leave their delivery vans on the side of the road. 

However there is no shortage of those unemployed to replace those who quit. 

Low standards for the role attracts those that are inexperienced, untrained beyond the basics and desperate enough to willingly accept minimum wage and long hours, and sometimes not even the minimum. 

The dystopian nightmare fueled by the actions of these larger than life corporations with scant morality is here to stay.

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