- Amazon will pay $US13.5 ($AU18) million to settle a decade-long legal battle with workers.
- The court ruled that Amazon must pay warehouse workers for time spent in mandatory security checks.
- Over 42,000 workers will split $US8.67 ($AU12) million, and the attorneys will receive $US4.5 ($AU6) million in fees.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last week that Amazon must pay warehouse workers for their time spent in mandatory security checks after each shift.
Amazon will pay a total of $US13.5 ($AU18) million in the settlement, ending a legal battle that has lasted over 10 years, Bloomberg Law reported on Monday. The highest payout claimed by an Amazon employee thus far is $US5,760 ($AU7,802).
Amazon and its lawyers argued that “employees are only paid for their labor – to pack boxes, but not to stand at a security checkpoint, which does not involve labor or toil.”
The court’s 5-2 majority opinion denied this, determining that “hours worked” under Pennsylvania law includes time spent waiting for, or undergoing, Amazon’s daily bag checks.
“The PMWA plainly and unambiguously requires payment for ‘all hours worked,’ … signifying the legislature’s intent that any portion of the hours worked by an employee does not constitute a mere trifle,” Justice Debra Todd wrote.
Over 42,000 workers will split Amazon’s $US8.67 ($AU12) million settlement, and the attorneys will receive $US4.5 ($AU6) million in fees.
This isn’t the first time tech giants have found themselves in court over unpaid security screenings. In a 2013 lawsuit, Apple retail store workers said they lost $US1,500 ($AU2,032) a year due to unpaid bag checks, Insider’s Jim Edwards reported. Apple retail workers told CEO Tim Cook that Apple retail stores treated “valued employees as criminals” and that the bag checks were “embarrassing and demeaning.”
“These procedures are often performed in front of gawking customers,” one Apple employee wrote in an email to Cook.
Amazon and Apple did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Whether or not workers should be paid for security checks required by Amazon has been a subject of debate in several lawsuits across the country. In 2018, Amazon employees in Nevada and Arizona won similar cases, according to Reuters.
In 2014, a similar lawsuit made it all the way to the US Supreme Court, where the justices ruled against Amazon workers. Citing the federal Portal to Portal Act, the court said that employers do not have to pay workers before or after their “principal activities” are completed.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that the state’s wage law overruled the federal law due to its broader nature.