Oct 4, 2022 - Business

Delivery drivers sue Amazon for wage theft — again

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Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Delivery drivers are again suing Amazon and its delivery partners for failing to provide rest and meal breaks — a practice the drivers say sometimes forces them to have to urinate in bottles while on the job.

The big picture: Although similar lawsuits have been filed against Amazon and its delivery contractors before, lawyers representing the drivers in the latest lawsuit say the problems have continued.

The latest: The class-action claim, filed Friday in King County Superior Court, alleges that the conduct by Amazon and its delivery contractors amounts to wage theft, since drivers aren't compensated for the rest and meal breaks they miss.

  • Under Washington law, employers "have an obligation to provide employees with ten minutes of additional pay for each missed rest break," per the claim.
  • The suit argues the companies are breaking the law by not having a system to relieve employees during busy periods.

Details: "Defendants' delivery drivers do not have time to take rest breaks because their routes are very busy, often requiring delivery of 200 to 300 packages per day," the lawsuit says, adding that drivers are pressured "to deliver a high volume of packages in as little time as possible."

  • "Consequently, drivers must resort to urinating in bottles or cans in their delivery vans or relieving themselves along the side of the road or in wooded areas," per the claim.
  • The drivers also allege that Amazon and its delivery contractors are failing to pay drivers properly for work they perform before and after their shifts, such as conducting safety checks and driving delivery vans back to where they are stored.

Zoom out: The new lawsuit focuses on drivers in the Seattle area, but similar complaints have been lodged against Amazon and its delivery partners elsewhere, including in California and Pennsylvania.

What they're saying: Despite the repeated complaints, "Unfortunately, drivers report that the unlawful practices continue," Toby Marshall, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, wrote in an email to Axios.

  • Amazon and its delivery partners settled a similar lawsuit with Seattle-area drivers for $8.2 million in 2020 — a case Marshall's firm also worked on.

The other side: Amazon spokesperson Maria Boschetti told Axios that the e-commerce company works with its delivery service providers "to set realistic expectations that do not put undue pressure on them or their drivers, while still fulfilling customer expectations."

  • That includes using "sophisticated technology that ensures routing plans include adequate time for breaks," Boschetti wrote in an email.
  • Amazon hadn't been served with the lawsuit as of Monday afternoon, she said.

What's next: The delivery drivers are asking for a judgment that Amazon and its contractors violated state and city labor laws. They also are seeking damages, including back wages.

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