Amazon battle over work-from-home expenses a step closer to trial

Lawsuit could cover thousands of people employed by e-commerce giant

Amazon battle over work-from-home expenses a step closer to trial

Employees at Amazon trying to recoup expenses incurred working at home during the pandemic are a step closer to trial after a California judge rejected the company’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

David Williams, a California-based engineer for the e-commerce giant, claims the company violated state laws by not having a policy to compensate employees for remote work expenses. According to a report by Bloomberg, the lawsuit could cover several thousand people employed by Amazon in California, who ended up footing $50 to $100 a month for home internet and office expenses. 

Amazon had argued it isn’t liable because the expenses stemmed from government orders to shelter-in-place, and not from the company. 

US District Judge Vince Chhabria said that even if the company’s argument were true, “that does not absolve Amazon of liability”. “What matters is whether Williams incurred those expenses ‘in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer’.”

The ruling allows Williams’s claims on California labor code violations to move forward. Chhabria granted Amazon’s request to dismiss claims that its conduct violated California’s unfair competition law but gave Williams an opportunity to revise the complaint.

It’s the latest in a string of legal cases for Amazon. The New York State Division of Human Rights has filed a complaint against Amazon, Inc., alleging the company engages in discrimination against pregnant workers and workers with disabilities by denying them reasonable accommodations. Prior to that, the firm got a win after a New York state appeals court dismissed a lawsuit accusing the company of failing to adequately protect thousands of workers against COVID-19.


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