Free two-hour delivery has some high hidden costs for its providers, and Amazon isn't paying those in full, or so alleges a new lawsuit seeking class-action status.
Al Jazeera America and Reuters report that the suit's plaintiffs are four California couriers for Amazon Prime Now, which launched in New York and recently arrived in California, just touching down in the Bay Area to drop off food and select goods with celerity usually reserved for streaming content. Although couriers for the service wear Amazon Prime Now uniforms, don't confuse them with employees, the company appears to insist. The LA Times writes that while the plaintiffs are nominally paid $11 an hour, they earn under the state mandated minimum wage o $9 when accounting for gas, tolls, maintenance, and other expenses.
The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court yesterday and naming Amazon and contracted courier service Scoobeez, adds that "[p]laintiffs cannot reject work assignments, nor can they request that their deliveries be restricted to a particular geographic area."
Further, "[p]laintiffs who do not follow defendants’ rules or instructions are subject to discipline up to and including termination," and claim they are denied overtime pay, workers' compensation, and mileage reimbursements they deserve.
Like drivers for Uber, whose class action lawsuit is moving forward in California, the Amazon couriers believe themselves misclassified by a company seeking to skimp on benefits to keep prices low for customers.
Lawyers are seeking class-action status in the suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Amazon and Scoobeez, its contracted courier service. The named plaintiffs, four drivers from Orange County, allege they were classified as independent contractors even though Amazon set their schedules and controlled virtually all aspects of their work.
"These are people who are in no way, shape or form in business for themselves," said a lawyer for the plaintiffs. "They’re people who interviewed for a job, were hired for that job and show up to an Amazon warehouse every day."
The Business Times explains that Amazon now maintains two fulfillment centers, one in San Jose, the other in San Francisco. In a larger context, the lawsuit comes at a time when virtually every aspect of Amazon's business is under fire, from its corporate work environment, as profiled in The New York Times, to its warehouses, which have been muckraked over time and time again.