The complaint for this class action sets forth a familiar issue: the alleged misclassification of workers for a company. In this case, the workers are delivery drivers and the companies are Amazon.com, Inc an Amazon Logistics, Inc., who use the drivers to fulfill customer orders.
The class for this action is all individuals who are or were classified as independent contractors in California, at any time between August 9, 2016 and the present.
The complaint quotes the California Labor Code as saying, “It is unlawful for any person or employer to engage in … [w]illful misclassification of an individual as an independent contractor.” However, it alleges, Amazon has a “pattern and practice” of doing so.
As independent contractors, the drivers are paid a flat rate for their shifts. However, the complaint says, it often takes them more time to complete their assigned work for the shift than they are scheduled for. In those instances, the complaint says, they are expected to complete the work but are not paid anything additional (such as overtime wages) for doing so.
But the drivers are in fact not independent contractors, the complaint argues. In performing their work, the complaint says, the drivers “perform work subject to the control of [Amazon] in that [Amazon] has the authority to exercise complete control over the work performed and the manner and means in which the work is performed.” For example, Amazon provides the customers and gives drivers the addresses where they are to make deliveries, in what order, and what routes to take. Drivers can also be penalized or fired for missing shifts; they are told how to conduct themselves with Amazon’s customers, how to scan the packages, and so on.
According to the complaint, “the California Supreme Court has determined the most significant factor to be considered in distinguishing an independent contractor from an employee is whether the employer or principal has control or the right to control the work both as to the work performed and the manner and means in which the work is performed.
Why has Amazon misclassified the drivers? The complaint says it is “in order to avoid compliance with all applicable federal and state laws that require payment for all time worked, business expenses, and the employer’s share of payroll taxes and mandatory insurance.” The complaint points out that Amazon escapes paying “the employer’s share of tax payments to federal and state governments for income taxes, social security taxes, [M]edicare insurance, unemployment insurance and payments for workers’ compensation insurance...”
Along with the lack of overtime pay and other required benefits of full-time employees, the complaint says, the misclassification has resulted in the drivers being underpaid.