Amazon has been fined $5.9 million for more than 59,000 breaches of California labor laws

California’s labor watchdog imposed a fine of approximately $6 million on Amazon for violating the state’s Warehouse Quotas law. Officials conducted investigations at two Amazon facilities in Southern California, Moreno Valley and Redlands, uncovering a total of 59,017 violations related to the law, which aims to restrict the implementation of demanding warehouse productivity quotas.

Effective since 2022, the Warehouse Quotas law mandates that employers must disclose productivity targets to employees and regulatory bodies, along with outlining any disciplinary actions employees might face for failing to meet these targets. The law also prohibits employers from setting quotas that impede workers from taking state-mandated meal and rest breaks, or using restroom facilities.

According to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office, Amazon did not provide written notification of quotas as required by the law. Amazon countered by stating it employs a “peer-to-peer evaluation system” instead of fixed quotas, a practice the Labor Commissioner criticized as precisely what the Warehouse Quotas law intends to prevent.

Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower emphasized that the peer-to-peer system used by Amazon at these warehouses contradicts the spirit of the Warehouse Quotas law, designed to protect workers from undue pressure and ensure their safety and well-being.

Amazon has faced increasing scrutiny over its treatment of warehouse and delivery employees, particularly regarding work pace expectations that critics argue heighten the risk of injuries. In 2022, Washington safety regulators fined Amazon for violations related to workplace safety laws, citing concerns over musculoskeletal disorders due to repetitive tasks performed at an excessively fast pace.

Despite these allegations, Amazon has maintained that it does not employ fixed quotas but evaluates individual performance based on a variety of metrics, including team performance at each site. The company has also defended its safety record and announced substantial investments in safety initiatives.

Amazon spokesperson Maureen Lynch Vogel stated that the company disagrees with the accusations and has initiated an appeal process. She clarified that Amazon’s performance assessment framework does not involve fixed quotas, emphasizing ongoing performance evaluations and support mechanisms for employees.

The controversy surrounding Amazon’s operational practices has spurred legislative actions at both state and federal levels aimed at regulating workplace conditions in warehouses and similar environments.

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