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Amazon Fined $5.9 Million After 59,000 Labor Violations

Amazon warehouse facility in Houston, TX

California's labor regulator has fined Amazon $5.9 million for violating a state law that limits stringent warehouse productivity quotas. 

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office found Amazon had committed 59,017 violations of the state's Warehouse Quotas law at two of its facilities in Moreno Valley and Redlands, east of Los Angeles.

The Warehouse Quotas law, which took effect in 2022, mandates employers disclose productivity quotas to employees and government agencies. 

It also requires that disciplinary measures for failing to meet these quotas be communicated clearly. 

The law also prohibits quotas that prevent warehouse workers from taking state-mandated meal and rest breaks or using the bathroom.

According to the Labor Commissioner’s office, Amazon failed to provide written notice of these quotas. 

employer

Amazon, however, claimed it doesn't use quotas.

Instead, it operates a "peer-to-peer evaluation system." 

Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said: “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.”

Amazon has faced increasing scrutiny over its treatment of warehouse and delivery workers, particularly regarding the speed at which they are required to work. 

Critics argue that these pace requirements increase the risk of injury. 

In 2022, Washington state regulators fined Amazon for "willfully" violating workplace safety laws. 

They noted the company's fast-paced work environment elevated the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and other injuries associated with repetitive tasks.

Amazon will appeal the decision

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has also cited Amazon multiple times for safety violations, which Amazon has said it will appeal. 

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Similar regulations have been enacted in states such as New York, Washington, and Minnesota, and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts introduced a federal bill.

Amazon, the second-largest private employer in the US, maintains that it does not use fixed quotas. 

Instead, it states that performance expectations are based on multiple factors, including overall team performance at a site. 

The company has also disputed claims employees do not receive adequate breaks.

It also defended its safety record, highlighting a $750 million investment in initiatives announced in March.

Spokesperson Maureen Lynch Vogel expressed disagreement with the allegations, indicating that the company has filed an appeal. 

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