September 25, 2013

Amazon workers sue over unpaid security screenings


The lion’s den: inside an Amazon warehouse.

Current and former Amazon warehouse workers in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Washington have filed class-action lawsuits against the online retail giant over lengthy, unpaid security screenings they are forced to undergo whenever they leave the facilities in which they work, including unpaid breaks.

The lawsuits allege that workers spend at least 40 minutes a week—some reports have that number at 20-30 minutes per day—being screened “for stolen goods or contraband.” These screenings occur after the workers, who are paid hourly, have punched out.

The workers are being represented by the Nashville, Tennessee law firm Barrett Johnston, LLC. Attorney David Garrison told The Huffington Post‘s Dave Jamieson that “We’re bringing as many of these cases as we can because we think we’re right on the law, and we think these workers are being underpaid.”

According to Jamieson, “the workers argue that they should be paid for the screening time because it’s a requirement, not an option—and because Amazon is the one to benefit from it… [and that] the screening eats up nearly half of their unpaid work breaks, which are mandated by law.” Garrison told Jamieson that the firm has been in contact with Amazon workers “on both coasts” about filing further lawsuits. It’s unclear how many workers are involved in the lawsuits.

A spokesperson for Amazon declined to comment.



Alex Shephard is the director of digital media for Melville House, and a former bookseller.