July 20, 2024

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Amazon Is Fined Nearly $6 Million Over Warehouse Work Quotas

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A California labor regulator said on Tuesday that it had fined Amazon nearly $6 million for thousands of violations of a safety law that took effect in 2022.

The measure, known as the Warehouse Quotas Law, lets employees request written explanations of any productivity quotas that apply to them, as well as explanations of any discipline they may face in failing to meet the quotas.

The state labor commissioner’s office said Amazon violated the law more than 59,000 times at two Southern California warehouses between October and March.

The system that Amazon used in the two warehouses “is exactly the kind of system that the Warehouse Quotas Law was put in place to prevent,” the labor commissioner, Lilia García-Brower, said in a statement.

An Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement that the company had appealed the penalties and denied that the company used “fixed quotas.” The spokeswoman, Maureen Lynch Vogel, said that “individual performance is evaluated over a long period of time, in relation to how the entire site’s team is performing,” and that workers can “review their performance whenever they wish.”

The California law also proscribes quotas that interfere with employees’ ability to take state-mandated breaks or use the bathroom, or that prevent employers from following state health and safety laws.

Experts have said the law was among the first in the country to regulate warehouse quotas that are monitored by algorithms and to require employers to make the quotas transparent to workers. The penalties announced on Tuesday are the largest issued under the law.

The labor commissioner’s office said its investigation had been assisted by a labor advocacy group, the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, which issued a statement quoting a worker at one of the penalized Amazon facilities who described significant pressure to hit quotas.

“If you don’t scan enough items you will get written up,” said the worker, Carrie Stone. “This happened to me. I…

Noam Scheiber

2024-06-18 20:02:46

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