California fines Amazon M for alleged violations of warehouse quota law at 2 warehouses

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office has fined Amazon a total of $5.9 million on allegations the company violated a state law by working warehouse employees so hard that their safety was put at risk.

The two citations, which were issued in May, said Amazon.com Services LLC violated the state’s Warehouse Quota Law at facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, the labor commissioner’s office said Tuesday in a press release.

Amazon was fined $1.2 million at a warehouse in Redlands and $4.7 million at another warehouse in Moreno Valley.

The Warehouse Quota Law, enacted in 2022, requires warehouse employers to provide employees with written notice of any quotas they are expected to follow, including how many tasks they need to complete per hour and any discipline that could result from not meeting the requirements, the labor commissioner’s office said.

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Amazon said Tuesday that it denies the allegations from the state and has appealed the citations.

“The truth is, we don’t have fixed quotas,” Amazon spokesperson Maureen Lynch Vogel said in a statement to the Associated Press. “At Amazon, individual performance is evaluated over a long period of time, in relation to how the entire site’s team is performing. Employees can — and are encouraged to — review their performance whenever they wish. They can always talk to a manager if they’re having trouble finding the information.”

The citations accuse Amazon of not providing written notice of quotas.

The labor commissioner’s office said the law defines a quota as work that must be performed at a specified speed or the worker could face discipline. The law also puts limits on quotas that prevent compliance with meal or rest periods, use of bathroom facilities or compliance with occupational health and safety laws, according to the labor commissioner’s office, which noted that a quota may be illegal if it is not disclosed to workers or prevents workers from exercising these statutory rights. 

Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower said Amazon used “exactly the kind of system” that the law was put in place to prevent.

“The peer-to-peer system that Amazon was using in these two warehouses is exactly the kind of system that the Warehouse Quotas law was put in place to prevent,” she said in a statement. “Undisclosed quotas expose workers to increased pressure to work faster and can lead to higher injury rates and other violations by forcing workers to skip breaks.”

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The labor commissioner’s office started its investigation in 2022 after employees at the two warehouses said they were facing unfair quota practices. The Warehouse Worker Resource Center, a nonprofit that advocates for improving working conditions, assisted the investigation.

“Amazon’s push for speed leads to high rates of injuries,” Warehouse Worker Resource Center staff attorney Mindy Acevedo said in a statement. “AB 701 provides important protections against dangerous work speeds and unfair quota practices, but these citations show Amazon failed to follow fundamental parts of the law.”

“Courageous workers sounded the alarm about these violations and the Labor Commissioner took prompt action,” Acevedo continued. “We heard from workers that not only were they required to work at an unsafe pace, there was little transparency around work expectations and they could lose their jobs if they failed to meet these undisclosed quotas. Amazon workers are entitled to what AB 701 promises – fairness and transparency around quota expectations and a safe pace of work.”

Similar laws have taken effect in other states, including Minnesota, New York, Oregon and Washington, the resource center said in a press release. In May, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., introduced a warehouse worker protection bill in Congress.

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