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Amazon Warehouse Workers Forced to Wait at Security Checkpoints Without Getting Paid

Attorneys representing the workers estimate that 100,000 warehouse workers are owed more than $100 million in back wages.
 
 
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After spending 12 hours a day packing boxes, Amazon warehouse workers must wait at security checkpoints for up to 25 minutes without pay before going home, the Huffington Post reports.

Nevada workers Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro are leading a class-action lawsuit against Integrity Staffing Solutions, which finds workers for Amazon, for uncompensated time spent in lines aimed at curtailing employee theft. Amazon was not named in the suit. The suit also claimed wages for time spent walking to and from lunch breaks in facilities described as “the size of seven football fields.” Attorneys representing the workers estimate that 100,000 warehouse workers are owed “more than $100 million in back wages and penalties for time spent on security lines,” the Morning Call reports.

"You're just standing there, and everyone wants to get home," Busk told the Huffington Post. "It was not comfortable. There could be hundreds of people waiting at the end of the shift."

In 2011, a federal court tossed out Busk and Castro’s claim, but last month a federal appeals court partially reversed that decision. In an opinion, a judge states that the “plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim for relief” because the security checkpoints are “necessary to employees’ primary work as warehouse employees and done for Integrity’s benefit.” The opinion does not reverse the decision on claimed wages for lunch trips.

Previous court decisions have stated that employers must compensate workers for time spent on activities integral to an employees’ job, such as putting on or taking off safety equipment. But attorneys representing Busk and Castro say, if successful, they would set a precedent winning claims for unpaid time spent at security checkpoints. They argue that Integrity could reduce waiting time for employees who’re ready to go home.

“There are thousands of employees all going through the gates at the same time,” Mark Thierman, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, told Lawyers.com. “They could relieve it by opening more checkpoints or staggering releases.”

This isn’t the first time Amazon warehouses became the center of a labor controversy. A 2011 investigation by The Morning Call revealed sweatshop-like conditions in a Pennsylvania warehouse, where temperatures “soared above 100 degrees.” A Financial Times report this year documented poor conditions and draconian measures in Amazon’s UK warehouses, including boots that don’t fit and the use of employee tracking devices.

 

 

 

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.