An important question facing California courts these days is whether or not workers are employees or independent contractors, especially when they provide on-demand services. Many companies classify on-demand workers as independent contractors, arguing that the workers prefer the flexibility of not having a set schedule. But workers argue that the classification isn’t accurate and deprives them of important labor rights.
According to The Wall Street Journal (10/27/15), Amazon is one such company facing a lawsuit. In this case, the lawsuit was filed by four couriers who provide services through Amazon’s one-hour delivery service, Amazon Prime Now. Amazon Prime Now reportedly offers delivery of goods within one hour for $7.99.
Couriers say when gas, maintenance and car insurance were factored in, they were paid less than minimum wage even though they were treated like employees by having to wear uniforms and work at specific times. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges, couriers were sometimes scheduled to work six or seven days a week, were not forwarded tips that were paid with credit cards, and were told by Amazon which jobs they could accept. Finally, they say they were subject to discipline if deliveries were not made within specified time limits.
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times (10/29/15), one plaintiff said they were told when to take lunch and when they could leave work. The couriers were reportedly hired by a company called Scoobeez to work for Amazon.com’s Prime Now delivery service.
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Amazon has reportedly not commented on the litigation.
The lawsuit is Truong v. Amazon.com, Inc., No. BC598993.