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Amazon Settles State Law Claims for $3.7 Million Involving Workers Seeking Payment for Time Spent Relating to Security Inspections

In December 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the time employees spend in security checks and waiting in line for security checks at the end of their work shifts is not time they legally need to be compensated for under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But in addition to the FLSA, each state has its own labor laws to regulate employment practices within the state, and some state laws do require employers to pay their workers for the time spent waiting in line for security checks.

One such class action lawsuit involves Amazon and SMX LLC, a temporary staffing agency Amazon uses to fill warehouse positions. The wage and hour lawsuit was filed in 2013 by Ladaisja B., David S., and Monica C., all of whom worked as packers in Amazon’s warehouse in San Bernardino, California.

The class action wage and hour lawsuit alleges Amazon requires warehouse employees who are classified as “pickers” and “packers” to participate in mandatory security searches onsite after they had clocked out for meal periods and at the end of their shifts. These checks and the time employees spend waiting to be checked allegedly cut into their breaks and their personal time after work. The wage and hour lawsuit alleges the mandatory security checks result in 20-30 minutes of extra work time per day, for which the workers are never paid.

In addition to the allegations of unpaid wages, the class action lawsuit is also alleging Amazon and SMX failed to provide employees with accurate itemized wage statements because they did not take into account the time required to complete the security checks. The lawsuit alleges that this extra time should have been noted on the employees’ wage statements as time spent working, and that their wages should have reflected that additional time.

The class action wage and hour lawsuit is part of an ongoing multidistrict lawsuit (MDL) against Amazon and other contractors like SMX that provide staff and/or warehouse space for the giant online retailer. Amazon has already tried to have some of the lawsuits involved in the MDL dismissed, claiming that some states, including Arizona and Nevada, do not require paying employees for the time that they must spend to allow for the employer to conduct security screenings.

But California has some of the most stringent employment laws in the country and is more likely to side with the employees in their wage and hour lawsuit.

Amazon continues to insist it has not done anything illegal, but it has agreed to settle the lawsuit for $3.7 million in order to avoid the expense and hassle of continuing to fight the legal battle in court. The plaintiffs have agreed to this settlement amount and have submitted a motion asking the U.S. District Court judge to approve the settlement. It is now up to the judge to study the settlement and make sure it is equally advantageous to both parties. Court judges normally only approve settlements when it is not immediately clear which party is most likely to win a court battle.

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 Schaumburg and Cicero. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Joilet and Naperville 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.