Amazon May Have Beat the Class Action, but Still Has to Deal with Joint Employer Issue

Amazon May Have Beat the Class Action, but Still Has to Deal with Joint Employer Issuev.jpg

In recent news, Amazon ended up beating the class action because the proposed driver class didn’t have enough in common, but the individual wage, overtime and meal break claims survived. Class claims were dropped in the delivery driver lawsuit that sought wages, overtime and relief for a number of different alleged labor violations. But the question of whether or not Amazon and other big businesses could be exposed to significant liability remains.

On December 6th, a federal judge found that California Amazon drivers could not seek class status because proposed class members (including current and former employees of Amazon and a number of staffing businesses subject to Amazon delivery guidelines) didn’t have enough in common. The federal judge on the case, Judge Maxine M. Chesney, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District, did leave room to for a potential finding that Amazon is a joint employer alongside 1-800-Courier. If the curt were to come back with a joint employment finding, it would mean that both Amazon and the courier company were Jasmine Miller’s (the plaintiff) formal employers. This precedent would leave major businesses regularly depending on contracted or subcontracted labor in California facing significant implications.

The judge stated that Miller’s working conditions (as an alleged joint employee of Amazon and 1-800-Courier) may not match the working conditions of other drivers at Amazon contractors who are also allegedly jointly employed. This resulted in a failure of the test for class action status requiring that all putative class members face essentially the same experiences and conditions.

Miller is moving forward with claims that she was not paid minimum wage, overtime wages, provided required meal breaks and rest periods, and accurate wage statements. Miller has until January 4th, 2019 to amend her class complaint per Judge Chesney. The judge added that the joint employment will likely hinge on an assessment of how much control Amazon has over the working terms and conditions of employees at the courier company (or other similar companies providing Amazon with workers).

If you have questions about California employment law or if you need to discuss overtime violations, or wage and hour violations in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.