In the modern Digital Age, delayed gratification has become a thing of the past. Companies not only compete to provide us with the things we want, they compete to get them to us faster. Amazon Prime Now is a service the online retailer offers in which certain items are available for delivery within an hour or two after the customer places the order, but such immediacy comes with a cost.
Amazon partnered with Scoobeez, a courier company, to find drivers to deliver Amazon Prime Now goods. The delivery drivers were classified as independent contractors, but a recent wage and hour class action lawsuit alleges they did not meet the qualifications for that classification.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exists to protect workers from abuse by their employers, but it does not extend those protections to independent contractors. Because this class of workers is unprotected, the law provides specific requirements for a worker to be labeled an independent contractor.
An independent contractor, by definition, is able to make her own hours, negotiate pay, control the environment she works in, and wear what she wants while working. Independent contractors are responsible for all their own business-related expenses, taxes, Social Security, and healthcare. Shifting the burden of these costs to the worker allows businesses to save money, but it’s for that reason that the law is so specific concerning the qualifications a worker must meet in order to be classified as an independent contractor.
Although the Amazon Prime Now delivery drivers were classified as independent contractors, they were allegedly required to wear uniforms, work regularly-scheduled shifts, and were not permitted to negotiate their own pay, which would put them firmly in the class of employees. But they were allegedly required to use their own vehicles to make the deliveries and cover all the costs of gas, maintenance, and auto insurance from their own pockets. The drivers allege that, after these costs, they earned less than California’s minimum wage of $9 per hour.
The lawsuit further alleges Amazon assured its customers that all gratuities went to the drivers, but the Amazon Prime Now app allegedly does not allow drivers to see if they have been tipped by the customers they’re delivering to. This practice allegedly restricts the drivers’ financial freedom by allegedly preventing them from seeing how much they’re going to get paid.
The class action wage and hour lawsuit was filed in California by four delivery drivers who hope to represent a class of about 200 drivers. The lawsuit alleges nine different violations of California labor law, including failure to pay minimum wage and overtime, failure to provide meal periods and accurate wage statements, breach of contract, and unfair business practices.
California labor law also requires employers to pay their workers all due wages within 72 hours after termination of employment. If a worker provides more than 72 hours notice of her termination, then all wages are due upon termination. If the employer fails to provide all her wages in full within the allotted time, they must pay the employee a waiting time penalty. Amazon allegedly failed to abide by these rules upon termination of a driver’s employment.
The plaintiffs are seeking compensation in the form of back pay and restitution, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. They’re also asking the court to issue a permanent injunction to prevent Amazon from ever again classifying its Amazon Prime Now delivery drivers as independent contractors.
Our Waucondo Gurnee and Lake Zurich wage and hour attorneys and unpaid overtime lawyers and attorneys are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.
Nationwide Consumer Rights is based in Chicago and Oakbrook Terrace. We represent clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at 630-333-0333 or through our online form.