Amazon Warehouse Ex-Employee Sues the Company for Unpaid Time During Covid-19 Screenings

The class action lawsuit involves more than 10,000 people.

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By Chloe Arrojado

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Last week, Jennifer Vincenzetti, who worked at two Amazon warehouses in Colorado Springs, filed a proposed class action lawsuit in Colorado federal court for not paying employees during Covid-19 screenings.

According to the file, the class action lawsuit involves more than 10,000 people at five Colorado Amazon warehouses, and class-wide damages for the employees total more than $5 million.

"Amazon appears fine making efforts to keep its workers safe, so long as the workers are the ones footing the bill," David Seligman of nonprofit Towards Justice, which brought the suit, said in a statement to Reuters.

Related: Amazon Tracks Warehouse Workers' Every Move Because Jeff Bezos Thinks People Are Inherently Lazy, Report Says

The complaint says Amazon had an illegal policy of forcing warehouse employees to work uncompensated prior to the pandemic, but that off-the-clock duties "increased dramatically" during the pandemic. The complaint claims during the Covid-19 pandemic the company made workers wait in long lines to answer questions and have their temperatures checked. This process took around 20-60 minutes of time, which Amazon didn't compensate.

The suit says that time should be compensated because under Colorado law "time worked" includes the time an employee is performing labor or services for the benefit of an employer. In June, Amazon argued in a similar lawsuit in California that because the screenings are of public interest, the company is not required to pay employees.

"COVID-19 screenings are part of a nationwide public health initiative that transcends any particular interest Amazon may have; while they incidentally benefit Amazon, they also benefit its associates and, indeed, the community as a whole. The screenings are thus not compensable under the [Fair Labor Standards Act]," Amazon wrote in its motion to dismiss the California lawsuit.

On Tuesday, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy admitted that the company could've done more for its employees during the pandemic.

"I think if you have a large group of people like we do — we have 1.2 million employees — it's almost like a small country," Jassy said at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle. "There are lots of things you could do better."

Related: What Is the Secret of Amazon's Huge Success? Jeff Bezos Credits Commitment to These 3 Principles.

Chloe Arrojado

Entrepreneur Staff

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