Amazon’s Prime Now courier service promises to deliver your purchased items to your front door in 1 to 2 hours at little or no cost. And it does honor that promise. But in a recent lawsuit, Prime Now couriers claim that Amazon achieves affordability at their expense.
Amazon workers are upset that the company and Scoobeez, a courier company that partnered with Amazon for the service, do not consider them employees and deprive them of the protections and benefits employees have.
Instead Prime Now drivers are considered contractors and are not entitled to overtime pay, worker’s compensation and other benefits granted under state and federal law.
Currently, four former Amazon employees sued the e-commerce giant and its partner in a California state court. According to court papers, Amazon can keep prices low for Prime Now deliveries in a speedy manner by cheating its workers.
Prime Now is a service designed to cut traditional delivery time from two days to maximum two hours. In some states it even offers 1-h delivery, but at a small fee. Currently, the service is available in more than a dozen major cities and it plans to expand it even more.
Amazon also has a well-planned network of warehouses that allows its drivers to deliver near-instantly the needed objects to its customers. But speed and affordability come at a hidden price which is paid by workers, the suit claims.
Amazon declined to comment on the allegations or provide further details on the lawsuit. It also declined to disclose whether all Prime Now couriers were considered contractors. Scoobeez also declined to comment.
But the lawsuit is not unique. Other companies that deliver speedy services at low costs such as Lyft, Handy and Uber were accused of making profit off their employees’ backs by trimming down labor costs. The firms said that workers have flexible schedules so they can work for other companies, as well.
Although, officially, Amazon Now couriers receive $11 per hour, plaintiffs say that they receive less than the state’s $9 minimum wage after paying for gasoline, tolls and repairs.
Additionally, plaintiffs said that they risk being fired or penalized if they are late a minute beyond the 2-hour window. Plus, they are continuously monitored by Amazon through GPS tracking.
“They knew exactly where we were every single minute,”
stated Cynthia Miller, one of the former couriers.
Miller added that they were also told when to take lunch, when to be in a location and where to leave. Dispatchers often failed to provide them with accurate directions or alternative routes to avoid traffic jams, which made the job even more stressful, Miller said.
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