Rest Breaks for Workers: California Amazon Warehouses Face Potential Class Action

by Norman B. Blumenthal on January 2, 2018

blumenthal nordrehaug & bhowmik, southern california employment law, southern california employment law attorneys, rest breaks, California rest breaks, sued for rest breaks, California warehouse workers, California lawsuit, required rest breaksA potential class action in California alleges that Amazon.com’s California warehouse operation fails to provide workers at various fulfillment centers with required rest breaks and overtime pay  on shifts that are over 10 hours. Romeo Palma, plaintiff, works for Golden State FC LLC. This business entity operates a number of different fulfillment centers in the state of California. Palma filed his complaint in Sacramento County Superior Court alleging that he and other workers in similar circumstances have not been paid overtime wages or premium wages, and have not received timely and accurate wage statements. The various violations were traced back to employees working 10-hour shifts without being provided access to the required third rest break.

Palma’s attorney stated that the lawsuit was filed in order to vindicate workers’ right under California law and calls into question the defendant’s practice of requiring employees to work long hours, short-changing them on required rest breaks and failing to pay the overtime associated with skipping the third required rest break for shifts longer than 10 hours. The workers involved make barely above minimum wage and are entitled to the requirements in accordance with employment law.

Amazon’s representation stated that the company does not comment on pending litigation, but that they follow all state and federal employment regulations.

Despite Amazon’s claims that their practices do not violate employment law, this is not the first time they have faced labor law violations accusations – specifically in relation to employment practices at their warehouses.

An action in Kentucky federal court accused the massive online distributor of not providing workers with adequate payment for time spent completing security checks. This action was tossed out in June.

Amazon has also been accused of misclassification of delivery drivers in a recent San Diego County Superior Court filing.

The proposed class for Palma’s suit would include any California resident who was employed for Golden State as a nonexempt employee anytime during the last four years. The class size has not been determined, but the plaintiff’s counsel estimates it could be in the thousands. Warehouse workers’ jobs involve: packaging, loading, unloading and other tasks associated with the warehouse activity. Palma claims that they are routinely scheduled for shifts 10 hours or longer.

In addition to long shifts, Palma claims workers must walk through spacious facilities when they clock in/out. The required walk can take up to several minutes according to Palma and workers are not paid for this time (or the time it takes to travel to their location for work). As a result, workers are working on the clock for more than 10 hours when scheduled for a 10-hour shift and they do not receive their third rest break or compensation for their third rest break as required by California law.

He also claims that workers did not receive premium pay for their missed third rest break as would be appropriate according to employment law because the third rest break is for shifts in excess of 10 hours. That means a missed 3rd rest break should legally be compensated at an overtime rate of one and one-half times the worker’s regular rate of pay.

As an example in the complaint, Palma described a shift that he worked in November. Palma stated that he was scheduled to start at 6:30am and end his shift at 5am the following day with a half hour lunch break at 11pm and two scheduled rest breaks. In reality, Palma clocked in at 6:25am, clocked out at 5:02 am with a 30-minute lunch break mid-way. This resulted in a 10 hour, 7-minute shift.

The plaintiff claims long shifts such as the one he completed in the above example were a result of the defendant not scheduling enough time for workers to clock in, arrive at their location, report for their shirt, or clock out after their shift. Even though Palma worked over 10 hours on that shift in November (and others like it) he did not receive the required third rest break.

It was also claimed that the defendant did not provide itemized wage statements – as payment for missing third rest breaks and required overtime payment weren’t included in gross wage calculations.

If you have an issue with the overtime calculations used to generate your overtime pay rate or if you aren’t receiving overtime pay as required by California Labor Law, please get in touch with one of the experienced employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

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