A case argued in the Supreme Court on Wednesday has shed light on the tight security at Amazon warehouses.
The case was brought against the Amazon contractor responsible for filling these warehouse jobs, Integrity Staffing Solutions, by two former Amazon warehouse employees who claim they should be compensated for all of the time they spent waiting in security checkpoint lines. (Amazon itself is not being sued.)
For former warehouse employee Jesse Busk, waiting in these lines essentially meant donating his time to Amazon. “They did it on my time,” Busk, 37, of Henderson, Nevada, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “If people are stuck in your building and they’re not allowed to leave, why don’t you go ahead and pay them?”
In a statement to The New York Times, an Amazon spokeswoman said “employees walk through postshift security screening with little or no wait.”
As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon has more than 20,000 employeesworking in its warehouses worldwide which are known as“fulfillment centres.”According to a study by Richard C. Hollinger, director of the Security Research Project at the University of Florida in Gainesville,
the retail industryloses over $US18 billion a yearin warehouse thefts. Increasing security at these distribution centres is therefore key to cutting costs.
Amazon warehouses follow very strict security procedures, keeping close tabs on its workers to prevent potential thefts. According to a court document from the case, at the end of the day employees are required to remove their wallets, keys, and other items from their pockets and walk through a metal detector near the warehouse exit.
As a former Amazon warehouse employee said in a Reddit AMA, “The place has really tight security. TSA has nothing on Amazon.”
Besides being screened as they enter and exit the building, workers are also checked during their lunch break as they leave the warehouse floor and enter the cafeteria, according to a lawsuit filed in South Carolina. For employees who smoke, Amazon has built 30-foot smokers’ cages outside of its Baltimore warehouse. The cages are designed to confine employees who must go outdoors, and prevent them from passing objects to anyone standing in the parking lot.
Amazon allegedly took its security measures to a dangerous extreme at a Pennsylvania warehouse in August 2011. An investigation by Morning Call reporter Spencer Soper revealed that at that time, the Breinigsville warehouse had no air conditioning, and temperatures in the building rose to over 100 degrees. Fearing that items would get stolen, however, management refused to open the warehouse doors to allow fresh air to circulate, one worker told the Morning Call. The warehouse has since spent $US52 million to install air conditioning units.
We reached out to Amazon, Integrity Staffing Solutions, and the plaintiff’s lawyer for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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