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Amazon faces nearly $6B in fines over California labor law violations

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The California Labor Commissioner’s office has fined Amazon $5,901,700 for infractions related to a law designed to protect warehouse workers. Under the state’s , large companies are required to tell warehouse or distribution center workers in writing what their expected quotas are, including how often they should perform particular tasks, and what consequences they may face for failing to meet those quotas.

This law was a reaction to stories from Amazon workers who said they would skip bathroom breaks or risk injury in order to maximize their output. “The hardworking warehouse employees who have helped sustain us during these unprecedented times should not have to risk injury or face punishment as a result of exploitative quotas that violate basic health and safety,” Governor Gavin Newsom when he signed the bill in 2021.

According to the California Labor Commissioner, Amazon failed to meet those rules at two of its facilities in the cities of Moreno Valley and Redlands, with 59,017 violations logged during the labor office’s inspections. It’s one of the first big fines levied thanks to AB-701, which took effect in January 2022. The tech giant said it would appeal the fines and claimed it did not need to provide written information because it uses a “peer-to-peer system.”

“The peer-to-peer system that Amazon was using in these two warehouses is exactly the kind of system that the Warehouse Quotas law was put in place to prevent,” Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower said in an official . “Undisclosed quotas expose workers to increased pressure to work faster and can lead to higher injury rates and other violations by forcing workers to skip breaks.”

The AB701 bill was passed by the state in September 2021, headed up by State Assembly rep Lorena Gonzalez. She was also a part of passing in 2019 to seek better protections for gig workers at companies such as Uber and Lyft.



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