Amazon Sued By Workers Over Lengthy Covid Screening Times

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Image credit: Amazon

Workers at Colorado warehouses allege they have to wait up to an hour of their own time, in order to be screened for Covid, before they can clock in

Amazon has been hit with a lawsuit by warehouse workers in Colorado, over the length of their own time it takes to screen them for Covid-19, before they can clock-in.

It is alleged that workers at Amazon’s Colorado warehouses wait up to an hour to be screened for Coronavirus before clocking in, Reuters reported.

Amazon of course built its own Coronavirus testing labs to monitor the health of its staff back in April 2020, when the pandemic began raging around the world.

Image credit: Amazon
Image credit: Amazon

Amazon lawsuit

Amazon also introduced many protection measures for staff during the pandemic, but that did not prevent nearly 20,000 staff being infected by Covid-19 as Q3 2020.

Yet the firm has been widely criticised for failing to protect staff during the pandemic.

And in February Letitia James, New York’s attorney general, filed a lawsuit against Amazon, alleging ‘disregard for health and safety requirements’ and retaliation against employees who raised alarms.

But this week Reuters has reported that Amazon has been accused of violating Colorado state law by failing to pay warehouse workers for time spent undergoing Covid-19 screenings before clocking in at work.

It seems that Jennifer Vincenzetti, who worked at two Amazon warehouses in Colorado Springs, filed a proposed class action in Colorado federal court on Tuesday. She alleged Amazon made workers wait in long lines to answer questions and have their temperatures checked.

Seattle-based Amazon did not reportedly respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

The proposed class includes more than 10,000 people at five Colorado warehouses.

“Amazon appears fine making efforts to keep its workers safe, so long as the workers are the ones footing the bill,” David Seligman of nonprofit Towards Justice, which brought the suit, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The complaint alleges that since March 2020, Amazon has required its staff at Colorado warehouses to arrive early, and then wait in lines outside the fulfilment centres, and then answer questions and check their temperature once they were inside.

That process generally took 20 to 60 minutes, the lawsuit alleges.

Compensation for time?

That time is compensable under Colorado law, which says workers must be paid when they are required to be on their employer’s premises or on duty, the lawsuit reportedly alleges.

Amazon has argued in a similar lawsuit in California federal court that because the screenings primarily benefit workers, they do not amount to compensable time under federal wage law.

Walmart has also apparently raised the same defence in a proposed class action in Arizona federal court claiming the retail giant’s failure to pay employees for time spent in Covid screenings violated state law.

It should noted that in July Amazon announced it was ending its on-site testing (but not screening) of US warehouse workers for Coronavirus, despite ongoing infections in the United States.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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