Amazon to pay $5.9-million fine for California labour violations

Dispute stems from employee 'quotas' in warehouses

Amazon to pay $5.9-million fine for California labour violations

The Labor Commissioner’s Office of California has ordered Amazon to pay almost $6 million in fines due to its violation of the Warehouse Quotas law, which was enacted in 2021, involving two of its distribution warehouses in Moreno Valley and Redlands.

According to Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower, her office found Amazon failed to provide written notice of quotas to its employees working in the warehouses, which is a clear violation of the law.

However, in its defense, Amazon said that did not need a quota system because it uses a peer-to-peer evaluation system, something that the law wants to prevent.

“The peer-to-peer system that Amazon was using in these two warehouses is exactly the kind of system that the Warehouse Quotas law was put in place to prevent. Undisclosed quotas expose workers to increased pressure to work faster and can lead to higher injury rates and other violations by forcing workers to skip breaks,” the labour commissioner said.

“This law defines a quota as work that must be performed at a specified speed or the worker suffers discipline. It also places limits on quotas that prevent compliance with meal or rest periods, use of bathroom facilities, or compliance with occupational health and safety laws. A quota may be illegal if it is not disclosed to workers or precludes employees from exercising these statutory rights,” she added.

The initial inspection began on September 22, 2022. As the investigation progressed, the Labor Commissioner’s Office found 59,017 violations for the Moreno Valley and Redlands warehouses from October 20, 2023, to March 9, 2024.

According to reports, in 2022, Washington state’s labor department also fined Amazon $60,000 for “willfully violating workplace safety laws by requiring warehouse employees to perform repetitive motions at a fast pace, increasing their risk of injury.” However, the said decision was opposed by Amazon.

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