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Former Amazon Worker Launches Unpaid Wages Lawsuit Over Security Checks

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Hazelton, PAAn Unpaid Wages lawsuit has hit the venerable online retail giant Amazon, in the wake of anti-theft policies observed by Amazon that keep employees in the building for several minutes at a time, after they have clocked out for the day. The practice, or so it is alleged, requires workers to wait around on their own time at the company’s behest, without remuneration.

According to The Times-Leader of Wilkes-Barre (The Times-Leader, 10/11/13), Amazon observes stringent anti-theft procedures at their warehouses. The unpaid wages claim alleges that once workers clock out for the day, they are required to languish in sometimes long lines for security screening, to ensure employees are not sneaking out with merchandise hidden in purses, et al.

Kelly Pavuk alleges the process of security screening can take upwards of 20 minutes at the end of each day. Employees wishing to leave the massive warehouse facility for an unpaid 30-minute lunch break must also undergo similar screening. Further, the screening process can take longer if a secondary screening is deemed necessary, by way of a pass through a metal detector.

Pavuk, who worked at the 630,000-square-foot Amazon warehouse for seven months before resigning due to a workplace injury, claims in her Unpaid Wages lawsuit that the process can add well over an hour through the course of a standard week, and sometimes more. Given that employees are paid by the hour and are required to clock in and clock out at the end of their shifts - and given, too, that security screening occurs after employees have clocked out, Pavuk and her unpaid wages attorney are of the view that the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act entitles Pavuk and her fellow workers to overtime pay accrued while lingering in line, on their own time, for security clearances mandated by the employer.

Over the course of a year, her unpaid wages attorney notes, lingering in lines upon clocking out could amount to a lot of personal time.

According to The Times-Leader, Pavuk has filed a motion requesting class-action status on behalf of any and all employees who toiled at the Amazon warehouse facility dating back to 2010. Pavuk’s unpaid wages attorney speculates the class could grow to several hundred or even a thousand class members.

According to the Times-Leader, similar lawsuits alleging off-the-clock work have been filed in Kentucky, Tennessee and Washington, as well as Breinigsville in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania. Lawsuits alleging off-the-clock work are on the rise, as employees rebel against employers that require them to use their own time to don or doff uniforms, or safety gear, perform work prior to clocking in or after clocking out, or, in the Amazon case, requiring an employee to linger at the workplace on his or her own time.

Such an unpaid wages claim suggests if an activity is required as part of the job function or is undertaken at the behest of the employer, then that activity should include remuneration.

The Unpaid Wages lawsuit was filed October 3 in Luzerne County Court. Pavuk hails from Freeland. The Amazon distribution center that serves as the target of the lawsuit is located in the Humboldt Industrial Park near Hazelton.

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