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Claims Brought Against Amazon For Alleged Illegal Wage Practices

There are plenty of ways employers can motivate or discipline their workers, but state and federal labor laws place restrictions on certain types of disciplinary actions.

According to a recent wage and hour class action lawsuit, Amazon allegedly recently overstepped its legal boundaries by allegedly deducting half an hour’s worth of wages or vacation time if an employee was more than three minutes late to clock in. If an employee clocked in late at the beginning of a shift and then again after a break on the same day, Amazon’s system allegedly deducted 52 minutes from the employee’s vacation time.

But state and federal labor laws require employers to compensate their workers for all time spent working. In addition, any unused vacation or paid time off (PTO) accrued by the worker belongs to the worker as part of their compensation, and the employer is not permitted to make improper deductions from that time. According to the recent wage and hour lawsuit, Amazon’s alleged practice of deducting time from employees’ vacations constituted an improper forfeiture of unused, accrued and vested vacation/PTO wages.

Although Amazon is certainly within its rights to encourage employees to start work on time, and discourage them from starting late or taking extended breaks, those rights do not extend to failing to pay employees for time spent actually working. Under Amazon’s current system, employees are allegedly not compensated for up to twenty-seven minutes that they spend actually working.

Furthermore, Amazon’s system allegedly still deducted wages or vacation time from an employee’s paycheck if that employee was late as a result of waiting in line to clock in. Thus, employees were allegedly punished if they were late through no fault of their own, “despite every intention of being ready, willing, and able to clock into a shift or back from a break, delays occurred that were solely in the control of the defendant joint management.”

Eric Chavez filed the class action wage and hour lawsuit against the giant warehouse retailer, alleging the practice was used in Amazon’s fulfillment warehouses in California. Chavez is seeking certification of a class of “current and former California-based non-exempt hourly employees of [Amazon] at any time between four years prior to the commencement of this action and continuing to the date of commencement of trial of this action” who lost wages or vacation time as a result of Amazon’s policy.

In addition to the allegations of improper wage deductions, the class action lawsuit is alleging failure to pay all wages due upon separation of employment in a timely manner, failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements, and unfair and deceptive business practices.

Under California labor law, when a worker’s employment is terminated, the employer has 72 hours after the termination to pay the worker all her earned wages in full. If a worker provides more than 72 hours notice before her termination, all wages are due upon termination.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide all their workers with accurate itemized wage statements. These statements must include all hours worked by the employee, all wages earned, and all wages withheld, including the reasons they were withheld (state and federal taxes, social security, health insurance, etc.). Hefty penalties can result from failure to provide accurate itemized wage statements, so if the plaintiffs are successful in court, Amazon could end up paying much more than it saved.

Amazon denies all of the claims and asserts it did not violate any laws.

The Chicago class action lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims by waiters and bus boys and other restaurant and hotel workers against national restaurant chains including Hilton, W, Marriott, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Chipotle, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Outback Steak House, Taco Bell, Burger King, Wendy’s and hotels for mis-classifying employees as managers or assistant managers, forcing employees to work off the clock at business, failing to share all tips, erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim these wage theft practices call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online.

The Chicago class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have three decades of experience fighting to help employees who are victims of wage, overtime and tip theft by their employers. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers who concentrate on prosecuting state and nationwide class action lawsuits. Our attorneys work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and pursue claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Evanston, Skokie and Lincolnwood. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our West Chicago and Aurora overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers mis-classify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago, and represents clients throughout the country who have unpaid overtime and other employment right claims.