A proposed class action alleges Amazon failed to pay Colorado warehouse workers for pre- and post-shift work performed off the clock.
According to the 13-page case in Colorado federal court, Amazon.com Services LLC required workers to spend unpaid time before each shift picking up their badges, receiving instructions and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, waiting in “lengthy” lines to undergo health screenings. The suit moreover alleges workers were on some occasions also subjected to uncompensated security screenings after they had clocked out of their shifts.
The case contends that warehouse employees’ pre- and post-shift work was compensable. As such, the workers should have been paid at least the minimum wage rate or their time-and-a-half overtime rates whenever they put in more than 40 hours per week or 12 hours per day, the complaint claims.
Per the suit, Amazon’s failure to pay employees for off-the-clock work was “committed knowingly, willfully and with reckless disregard of applicable law.”
The plaintiff, a former Amazon employee who worked at two of the online retailer’s Colorado Springs warehouses until she was allegedly let go for “returning late from a break,” claims that she and other non-exempt hourly workers were subject to “strict requirements” to avoid overtime and were not permitted to clock in early or clock out late.
The suit alleges that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Amazon had “an illegal policy” whereby warehouse employees were required to work off the clock before and after their shifts without compensation. The plaintiff says she had to retrieve her badge and meet with a shift assistant to receive instructions before clocking in, which caused her to put in roughly two to five minutes of unpaid work per day, per the suit.
“This was the same for workers at Amazon warehouses across Colorado,” the complaint alleges, adding that some workers were also required to undergo security screenings after clocking out without being paid for that time.
The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic saw warehouse employees’ off-the-clock work “increase dramatically,” according to the suit, as Amazon implemented a company-wide policy of subjecting workers to pre-shift health screenings.
Per the case, workers were required to arrive early to the warehouse and wait in line to answer health questions and have their temperatures checked before starting their shifts. Although the health screening lines were sometimes shorter when COVID-19 outbreaks forced “a substantial part of the workforce” to quarantine, they were typically “very long” and caused workers to put in an additional 20 to 60 minutes of unpaid work before being allowed to clock in for their shifts, the complaint relays.
The lawsuit claims proposed class members—i.e., current and former non-exempt hourly employees who worked at Amazon’s warehouses in Colorado within the statute of limitations—are owed unpaid minimum, contract and overtime wages.
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